SHAZAM continually advocates for issues important to community financial institutions. Here's what advocacy looks like in a pandemic.
posted by Dan Kramer on Thursday, January 28, 2021 in SHAZAM Blog
You may not realize it, but SHAZAM continually advocates for issues important to community financial institutions. Dan Kramer, executive vice president, government and community affairs, works full time to make sure lawmakers and other decision makers in Washington DC understand the concerns of community financial institutions surrounding payments issues, and that those perspectives are represented in decisions made by lawmakers in Washington. He works relentlessly to make sure the country’s payments network is constructed in a fair and open way, creating a level playing field by tackling issues like open standards and stronger user authentication.
SHAZAM’s joined a broad coalition of retailers, community banks, and other processors under the name of the secure payments partnership. The partnership creates a baseline for advocacy and affords the opportunity for SHAZAM to bring payments issues to the forefront of legislative action. The goal we are seeking is to strengthen the payment system and creating stronger user authentication which will benefit everyone.
Navigating the complexity of the legislative process and the pitfalls of politics can be a daunting task without the challenges of a pandemic. Allow Dan to offer some insight into successfully advocating for your own issues during these challenging times.
Insight from Dan Kramer on advocacy during a pandemic
For many reasons, these past 12 months are ones for the record books. Prior to the pandemic, I couldn’t have envisioned my government relations work in the payment industry without in-person visits on Capitol Hill or with legislators at state capitals. It's been an interesting ride but not an impossible one. Let me share with you some things I’ve learned while negotiating this COVID landscape.
Government continues to function
Just like you and me, the people who work within capital complexes across the country are just trying to get through the pandemic, all while doing their jobs the best they can within the normal framework under which government operates. There have been starts and stops, with the priority to keep funding existing programs and examine policies important to issues surrounding the pandemic. At the end of the day, issues are being prioritized and dealt with, just at a much slower pace. I’m sure that isn’t a surprise.
Relationships matter during a pandemic
Like many of you, I’ve spent more time than I care to on Microsoft Teams or Zoom calls. However, it’s more important than ever to maintain contact with people you know, and government relations is no exception. Under the current circumstances, elected officials and staff are doing the best they can. It's been obvious to me that patience and forgiveness are key during this time. The patience part is easy to explain because we've all had to show it in our day-to-day work lives. The forgiveness part comes from understanding our elected officials and their staff are trying to do the right thing under terrible circumstances, and that requires kindness and understanding when dealing with them.
Many are working from home as their buildings are closed, depending on the state. In person activities are substituted with continual daily phone calls or virtual meetings. In some cases, staff are exposing themselves to the virus by having to travel extensively to accommodate the work. A simple gesture of saying hello or thank you to them goes a long way.
The pandemic has reinforced the need for continual communication and outreach as the primary source of any advocacy you or your financial institution may undertake. This past year has offered a significant opportunity for the education and examination of those things important to us, especially when they are complex. You must look at education as the foundation of any effort you undertake to make a change.
In the absence of human contact as we knew it before the beginning of the pandemic, right now contact in any form is paramount. I encourage you to take advantage of this time to educate yourself on important topics and continue to foster relationships with kindness and understanding.
But then, isn’t that good advice for all times?
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