(May 17, 2010) Payments-industry partisans of all stripes got onto their soap boxes on Friday and Monday to praise or denounce U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin’s successful amendment that could pave the way for regulation of debit card interchange and acceptance terms. Merchant interests basked in the surprisingly large (64-33) victory they scored late on Thursday and banks and the bank card networks reeled from a rare Capitol Hill defeat. Others, however, wondered just how the Federal Reserve and the networks would carry out some of the amendment’s vaguely worded stipulations should they become law.
For now, however, merchants and the card industry are gearing up for a furious lobbying fight as the amendment, attached to the big financial-industry regulatory reform bill, moves through the legislative process. Still ahead is debate by the full Senate and reconciliation with the version the House of Representatives’ passed earlier and does not contain an interchange provision. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., hopes to have the Senate’s work done by Memorial Day. But House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., indicated in the winter that he wasn’t interested in the interchange issue. A Durbin spokesperson did not respond to a Digital Transactions News e-mail Monday.