Why Nickels?

Turning Burgers Against Obesity — the essence of the Nickel-a-Meal Campaign — is a fast, convenient and effective way of having the food system work on behalf of healthier eating. It allows us to not give up the fast and convenient places we like, but serves up an impressive flow of resources to make sure we get heard about the kind of better foods we like.

But why nickels? Why not ask rich people and companies for large amounts of money? Why not a dollar? Why not $10? Why not big taxes or taxes on specific foods … like sodas, which clearly contribute to making us unhealthy?

To me, the reason is because a nickel adds up and is reasonable. Few people — even those with limited income — will complain, especially once they see the power of NICKEL & DIMING change!

But there’s more to it. The food industry already has in place — supported by our tax dollars and the government — a system for giving the financial interests a small taste of everything we buy. So why shouldn’t the consumer have a slice of this process? It would definitely put as at the table.

Take a look at this piece to understand how the current money processing system works. It comes from an article in practical ecommerce. This paragraph is designed to showcase what happens with a hypothetical $100 charge as it moves through the system. For fun, your McBurger charge is the $100, but the same scenario applies for … say … a $5 or $10 purchase. The authors wrote it as if YOU were the $100 and what happens as different entities take a piece of you:

Your first destination is the payment gateway (-.10¢), which routes you to the appropriate processor (-.08¢). The processor immediately submits you to what is known as the credit card interchange (-.09¢). After you’ve cleared the interchange, your next leg takes you to the issuing bank (-1.93¢), which verifies the available funds in the customer’s credit card account. Whether you are approved or declined, you now begin the journey back to the customer. However, if you’re approved, you and your authorization results are soon to part after speeding by each stop you made on the way. Your detour is through your merchant account at the acquiring bank (-.65¢) to, ultimately, the merchant’s bank account, where you will be deposited; that is, the $97.15 of you that remains.

NOTICE: Most of these charges range from a penny or so to about a dime. Halfway between what these companies are used to is a nickel … hard for them to argue about this, don’t you think?

It is from these processes that we know that about 150,000,000 such transactions daily is feasible once the Nickel-a-Meal Campaign is up and running. We say this because non-fast food outlets (even grocery stores) can participate too, meaning the number of businesses globally could be massive — giving consumers a voice that will be hard to ignore.

But the nickel is not the entire story. The industry uses rather closed and self-oriented processes for deciding what it can charge. See this article on the history of credit card processing to see just how private the practices are. Think there is room for the imput of those who eat from their systems?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Or feel free to JOIN US on this adventure.

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