TCF’s Suit Is ‘Nonsense,” Anti-Interchange Crusader Mitch Goldstone Says (Digital Transactions)

(October 14, 2010) TCF National Bank’s federal lawsuit against the controls on debit card interchange contained in the Dodd-Frank financial reform law draws scant sympathy from retailers who have been battling against card interchange, including a merchant and entrepreneur who has been leading a crusade against the pricing mechanism for years. “It’s nonsense,” says Mitch Goldstone, president and chief executive of, Irvine, Calif. “It’s just another distraction.”

Goldstone argues the suit, which names the Federal Reserve as defendant and claims that the law’s provision for the Fed to control debit card interchange is unconstitutional, represents an effort by banks and the card networks to preserve status-quo interchange pricing for as long as possible. “It’s just a big game to them,” he says. “They’re just trying to run out the clock. Every day Visa and the banks get away without addressing interchange, they make another $120 million.” TCF filed its suit on Tuesday (Digital Transactions News, Oct. 12),

Goldstone’s estimate of the daily tab for interchange includes both credit and debit card fees, he says. Debit card interchange alone is estimated to represent about $15 billion in annual income for financial institutions. TCF, which is a prominent debit card issuer but has no credit card portfolio, estimates Dodd-Frank will cut its annual interchange income from $102 million to $20 million. While Visa and MasterCard set interchange rates, interchange income flows to card-issuing banks. It is paid by merchant acquirers, which then pass the cost on to merchants as part of the discount fee merchants pay on each transaction.

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