Retailers Go to Washington over #SwipeFees | CSP Daily News / Magazine | CSP Information Group


WASHINGTON — In an effort to ensure swipe fee reform passes Congress and is signed into law, more than 100 small-business owners from across the country descended upon Washington late last week where participants joined Representative Peter Welch (VT-AL) for a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol to urge members of Congress to support the Durbin-Welch amendment, then marched to Capitol Hill to conduct face-to-face meetings. A bipartisan majority in the Senate passed an amendment last month, offered by Senator Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), to rein in excessive debit-card fees. Now the measure needs final Congressional approval.

Mike Foster, who owns a 7-Eleven in St. Louis, was among those who went to Washington, added a St. Louis Post-Dispatch report.

“If a customer comes in and buys a Post-Dispatch on a debit card, I’m better off letting him or her just steal it,” Foster quipped to the newspaper, because the charges of up to 20 cents he pays on a debit-card purchase can exceed his profit on smaller items. He added that last year, debit-card fees cost him about $18,000, money that could have been profit or investment in his store.

Foster said he hopes Durbin’s amendment survives the “sausage process” of lawmaking. “I like the safety, security and convenience of plastic. We’d just like to see some fairer, reasonable rates,” he added.

“Small business owners…are suffering from out-of-control swipe fees charged by big banks and credit-card companies,” Welch said. “Congress must stand up to the special interests swarming the Hill this week to kill the Durbin amendment. We must do the right thing by fighting for small businesses and the American consumer.”

Swipe fees are the average 2% of the total transaction cost that credit-card companies and their member banks collect from U.S. retailers, local governments, charities, universities and more, every time they accept a credit or debit card as a form of payment. The U.S. currently pays the highest swipe fees in the world—with rates that have tripled in less than a decade. Reform would help small businesses to grow, offer better pay to their employees, and pass savings on to their customers.

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