The latest attempt to resurrect the viability of the small issuer exemption should bring us back to the core reasons why the banks arguments are demonstrably false. As everyone in the industry knows, merchants are required to accept all debit cards, regardless of the issuer, under the “honor all cards” rules that are in place at all of the debit networks.
Today, the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division submitted a a final consent decree in its enforcement action against Visa and MasterCard to address some of the anti-competitive practices related to credit cards, according to a release from the Food Marketing Institute (FMI).
TCF Financial Corp., a Minnesota bank and one of the largest debit-card issuers, sued the Fed last October, saying that large financial institutions are unfairly targeted. A hearing Thursday in a federal appeals court will give TCF a second chance at an injunction to stop the rule.
“For millions of small-business owners across America, swipe fees are the difference between breaking even or going bust. It can mean hiring a new worker–or having to let an old one go. It can mean passing along savings to customers–or losing the sale. For years, unfair and excessive swipe fees have held Main Street back. But not anymore,” said Dennis Lane, -Eleven franchisee and national spokesperson for Reform Swipe Fees NOW!.
Furthermore, it remains to be seen to what extent to banks will scale back their issuance of debit cards. The long-term, secular trend is toward electronic payments, and it is hard to imagine Americans abandoning their cards and returning to paper checks or cash any time soon. While the rate of growth might slow, in the end most Americans would acquiesce to paying a nominal fee before they abandoned their cards.
Washington, June 8, 2011 — Matthew Shay, President and CEO of the National Retail Federation, today issued the following statement upon Senate rejection of the Tester-Corker amendment to delay swipe fee reform:
“This is a landmark victory for American consumers that will give them the break from skyrocketing swipe fees that they have been seeking for years.
“With the economy still trying to gain momentum and consumers facing skyrocketing costs for necessities like food and fuel, this badly needed reform will help ensure our nation’s economic recovery. It will prevent more than a billion dollars a month from being pocketed by big banks and, in turn, allow retailers to hold down prices for consumers.
“Congress came to the right conclusion last year – hidden swipe fees charged by big banks have driven up prices far too much for far too long. The National Retail Federation and America’s retail merchants commend the Senate for standing by last year’s vote and for voting on the side of American consumers.”
As the world’s largest retail trade association and the voice of retail worldwide, the National Retail Federation’s global membership includes retailers of all sizes, formats and channels of distribution as well as chain restaurants and industry partners from the U.S. and more than 45 countries abroad. In the U.S., NRF represents the breadth and diversity of an industry with more than 1.6 million American companies that employ nearly 25 million workers and generated 2010 sales of $2.4 trillion. http://www.nrf.com
The banking industry’s multimillion-dollar PR blitz and lobbying campaign to block caps on debit card swipe fees ended Wednesday when the Senate allowed a key piece of the Wall Street reform law passed last year to move ahead.