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Payments Industry Steps up to Help Harvey Victims

Several payments companies have announced efforts to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana, including monetary donations, interchange fee waivers and m-POS equipment.

Mastercard is donating $100,000 to the American Red Cross and, along with issuing banks, is waiving interchange related to donations through Sept. 30 to certain charities. The Purchase, N.Y.-based payments company also will match every employee donation through its Mastercard Cares portal.

American Express is pledging a total of up to $250,000, including $150,000 for immediate disaster relief and up to $100,000 to match employee contributions to assist the Red Cross with emergency measures in the areas affected by Harvey.

The company also is providing a rebate of the applicable merchant discount rate—its version of interchange—to several nonprofits for charitable contributions for hurricane relief that Card Members make directly to the organizations using their American Express Card. The rebate will apply retroactively to donations made to these organizations from Aug. 25 through Sept. 30, 2017.

Meanwhile, First Data is sending thousands of its Clover Go mobile credit and debit card readers to the Houston area to distribute free to business owners affected by the storm. The initiative includes free device installation and discounted pricing, in addition to the free Clover Go mobile readers, the company says.

“The lessons of 9/11, Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy remind us that one of the most crucial steps toward recovery is to help small business owners open their doors and start serving their customers,” says Frank Bisignano, chairman and CEO of First Data. “Whether a business needs to replace a payment device damaged in the storm, or set up shop in a temporary location with a mobile payment reader, we hope that our efforts can help impacted businesses get up and running quickly.”

All in, businesses of all kinds have pledged more than $157 million to the relief effort, according to a CNN Money report. The article also noted that Visa was matching employee donations two to one in addition to a $250,000 donation to the Red Cross. Amazon and Whole Foods matched $1 million in cash donations made on Amazon.com to the Red Cross Hurricane Harvey Relief.

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