WASHINGTON The National Retail Federation announced that it welcomed a House-Senate conference committee’s decision to include a fix for rapidly rising debit card swipe fees in the final version of financial services reform legislation approved early this morning.
“The conference committee has struck a blow for small retailers and their customers,” NRF SVP and general counsel Mallory Duncan said. “For years, these soaring fees have been taking billions of dollars out of consumers’ pockets and driving up prices. This is unsustainable. With this conference report in hand, Congress has an opportunity to stand up for Main Street businesses and consumers and rein in the greed of the big Wall Street banks and credit card companies.”
“If adopted by Congress and properly implemented by the Federal Reserve, this legislation will put an end to retailers being forced to accept ‘Visa dollars’ that are only worth 98 cents today and whatever Visa decides they’re worth tomorrow,” Duncan said. “This bill will take us a lot closer to a dollar really being a dollar again.”
The conference report includes an amendment sponsored by Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin, D-Ill., that would require the Federal Reserve to set regulations resulting in “reasonable and proportional” swipe fees for debit cards. The Fed would be required to take into account banks’ actual costs for processing the transactions and the fact that paper checks drawn on the same accounts are paid at face value.
Swipe fees – officially known as interchange fees – are a percentage of the transaction charged by card company banks each time a card is swiped to pay for a purchase. The fees average between 1% and 2% for debit cards and 2% or more for credit cards.