The Merchants Payments Coalition issued the following statement in response to today’s successful vote against Sen. Jon Tester’s (D-MT) amendment

June 8, 2011

“Merchants and consumers across the country owe a huge thank you to all of the Senators who reaffirmed the swipe fee reform law in the face of unprecedented pressure from Wall Street banks. For nearly a decade, the country’s biggest banks and credit card companies have worked tirelessly against these long-awaited reforms, and Main Street has finally prevailed. Today’s vote sent a message to the big banks and their allies that the Senate is prepared to support Main Street by protecting these critical reforms.
“The Federal Reserve can now proceed with its rulemaking to curb swipe fee abuse, and we look forward to seeing the final rule so that Main Street retailers and consumers can start seeing some relief from out-of-control debit fees on July 21.” 
 
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The Merchants Payments Coalition is a group of convenience stores, retailers, and small business owners whose membership associations represent approximately 2.7 million stores and 50 million employees. For more information, go to http://www.unfaircreditcardfees.com or visit us on Twitter. 
 

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Henry Helgeson, CEO of Merchant Warehouse is wrong on electronic payment interchange #swipefees

February 22, 2011

CardLine’s PaymentSource quoted Henry Helgeson, CEO of a processing company called Merchant Warehouse, Inc. where he spouted the same old invalid argument that giant banks want American’s, Congress and the Federal Reserve to believe merchants will not pass on to their customers the billions in savings from the new Durbin lower debit fees.

Surprisingly, Mr. Helgeson acknowledges that his company WILL
pass on to its merchant customers the lower debit fees, even though they
are not required to.  As a merchant (retail and eCommerce business owner) I am perplexed that Mr. Helgeson would risk his entire company, his merchant customers and perhaps soon-to-be former customers by taking sides with the giant banks by spouting their propaganda.  MasterCard and Visa’s member banks reap nearly $62 billion dollars a year from these merchant interchange swipe fees, which were designed forty years ago to cover antiquated carbon copy analog payment network.

Unlike the electronic payment network member banks which are without real competition (MasterCard and Visa wield 80% market power), merchants will all be compelled to rebate all saved interchange fees.  Merchants will not JUST lower prices, but we will hire more employees, invest in infrastructure and transparently benefit the economy rather than just the banks’ vaults.  Even so, the legal argument is being clouded by the bank’s multi-million dollar advocacy campaign.  The last thing Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and thousands of other banks want you to know is that the argument is not about refunding savings to consumers, but rather it is all about anticompetitive illegal price-fixing.

As a lead plaintiff, suing MasterCard, Visa and major banks in what could be the largest anti-trust litigation in our nation’s history, I have been leading the battle against them for half a decade. For news and commentary updates follow WayTooHigh.com and Twitter

Mitch Goldstone
President & CEO
ScanMyPhotos.com


Federal Reserve Board Press Release: Proposed Rule That Would Establish Debit Card Interchange Fee Standards [#SwipeFees]

December 16, 2010

Press Release

 

Federal Reserve Press Release

Release Date: December 16, 2010

For immediate release

The Federal Reserve Board on Thursday requested comment on a proposed rule that would establish debit card interchange fee standards and prohibit network exclusivity arrangements and routing restrictions.

The Board’s proposal would implement the debit card interchange fee and routing provisions of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Debit card interchange fees are established by payment card networks and paid by merchants to card issuers for each transaction.

The proposed new Regulation II, Debit-Card Interchange Fees and Routing, would establish standards for determining whether a debit card interchange fee received by a card issuer is reasonable and proportional to the cost incurred by the issuer for the transaction. These standards would apply to issuers that, together with their affiliates, have assets of $10 billion or more. Certain government-administered payment programs and reloadable general-use prepaid cards would be exempt from the interchange fee limitations.

The Board is requesting comment on two alternative interchange fee standards that would apply to all covered issuers: one based on each issuer’s costs, with a safe harbor (initially set at 7 cents per transaction) and a cap (initially set at 12 cents per transaction); and the other a stand-alone cap (initially set at 12 cents per transaction). Under both alternatives, circumvention or evasion of the interchange fee limitations would be prohibited. The Board also is requesting comment on possible frameworks for an adjustment to the interchange fees to reflect certain issuer costs associated with fraud prevention.

If the Board adopts either of these proposed standards in the final rule, the maximum allowable interchange fee received by covered issuers for debit card transactions would be more than 70 percent lower than the 2009 average, once the new rule takes effect on July 21, 2011.

The proposed rule would also prohibit all issuers and networks from restricting the number of networks over which debit card transactions may be processed. The Board is requesting comment on two alternative approaches: one alternative would require at least two unaffiliated networks per debit card, and the other would require at least two unaffiliated networks per debit card for each type of cardholder authorization method (such as signature or PIN). Under both alternatives, the issuers and networks would be prohibited from inhibiting a merchant’s ability to direct the routing of debit card transactions over any network that the issuer enabled to process them.

According to the recently released 2010 Federal Reserve payment study, debit card use in the United States now exceeds all other forms of noncash payments and, by number of payments, represents approximately 35 percent of total noncash payments.

Comments on the proposal are due by February 22, 2011.

Federal Register notice: 636 KB PDF

Statement by Chairman Ben S. Bernanke

Statement by Vice Chair Janet L. Yellen

 

How Card Issuers Sneak Around New Laws (Consumerist)

June 14, 2010

Crafty credit card issuers aren’t going to let a little thing like the law get in the way of their profits. Nope, they’re finding creative ways to get around the pro-consumer CARD act and maintain their grip on your pocketbook.

READ ARTICLE: Via Consumerist. http://consumerist.com/2010/06/how-card-issuers-sneak-around-new-laws.html


VISA’s Lobbying Effort to Stop Financial Reform Hits a New Low — WASHINGTON , May 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ —

May 22, 2010

VISA using children, firefighters and seniors to justify fleecing small employers and consumers

WASHINGTON , May 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Dennis Lane, single store 7-Eleven Franchise owner and national spokesman for the campaign to Reform Swipe Fees NOW!, released the following statement regarding VISA’s response to the U.S. Senate’s passage of sweeping financial regulatory reform.

“The credit card industry has officially hit a new low in their campaign to block financial reform.  To justify fleecing small business owners like me, they are now hiding behind seniors, veterans, firefighters and even children to justify their business practices.  Their unprecedented multi-million dollar lobbying having failed, they have now resorted to using human shields in a last-ditch effort to scuttle reform that will benefit millions of small businesses and their customers.”

From VISA’s statement upon passage of the Senate financial reform bill (S. 3217)

  • “Those who rely on prepaid cards for government disbursement, such as child support, could be particularly hard hit.”
  • “…could especially harm community banks and credit unions that depend on interchange to offer competitive banking services to firefighters, police officers, teachers, veterans, congressional staffers and other customers.
  • “This could be especially devastating for those on a fixed income who rely on prepaid cards for government disbursements such as social security.”

“Each of these suggestions is ridiculous, and VISA knows it. Rather than hurt workers and families, swipe fee reform will help small businesses grow, improve wages and benefits, and lower prices for consumers.  But with its lobbying efforts failed, it’s become increasingly clear that the card industry is willing to say just about anything to protect the billions they are making exploiting small business.

“We need Congress to finish what it has started. For reform to be complete, it must include interchange reform.  For our economy to grow again, we cannot allow VISA and the nation’s largest financial institutions to continue siphoning away billions each year from hardworking small business owners.”

About Reform Swipe Fees NOW: Reform Swipe Fees NOW is a project by the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA).  The project unites U.S. business owners, small and large, in a campaign for fair credit card swipe fees.

SOURCE Reform Swipe Fees NOW

VISA’s Lobbying Effort to Stop Financial Reform Hits a New Low — WASHINGTON , May 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ —.


U.S. Senate Passes Commonsense Swipe Fee Reform to Aid Small Business and Consumers

May 22, 2010

Main Street merchants applaud Senate for taking immediate action to help retailers

and their customers across the nation

WASHINGTON— The Merchants Payments Coalition, representing 2.7 million U.S. businesses, released the

following statement after the U.S. Senate voted to include commonsense swipe fee reform in the Restoring

American Financial Stability Act of 2010 through an amendment introduced by Sen. Richard Durbin. Specifically,

the measure will ensure the debit card transactions are reasonable and proportional to the cost of processing the

transaction:

“Tonight, the Senate stood up to the credit card companies and big banks and stood strong for Main Street

businesses and our customers. Swipe fees have spiraled out of control in recent years, and this amendment is

necessary to rein in these excessive fees and ensure that Main Street receives a fair shake. These fees are harmful

across the board – from large businesses to small retailers to American consumers.”

“Because of Sen. Durbin’s amendment and his efforts to push this measure through the Senate, business owners

and their customers are one step closer to real, tangible reform. This amendment will enhance transparency and

help protect businesses and their customers alike from these unfair, hidden fees.”

“Now that the Senate has acted in such a strong and unambiguous way, business owners across the country hope

that Congress will continue moving forward with this measure to bring fairness to credit and debit card swipe fees

– and that it eventually reaches President Obama’s desk to become law.”

###

The Merchants Payments Coalition is a group of retailers, supermarkets, drug stores, convenience stores, fuel

stations, on‐line merchants and other businesses who are fighting against unfair credit card fees and fighting for a

more competitive and transparent card system that works better for consumers and merchants alike. The

coalition’s member associations collectively represent about 2.7 million stores with approximately 50 million

employees. For more information about credit card swipe fees, please visit http://www.UnfairCreditCardFees.com.

[via MPC Press Release]


Visa Inc. Statement: Senate Passage of S. 3217 – (via Corp Press Release)

May 22, 2010

Visa Inc. Statement: Senate Passage of S. 3217 – VISA Inc. Corporate Press Release)

SAN FRANCISCO, May 20, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) — The following is a statement from Visa Inc. in response to Senate passage of S. 3217:

“We are disappointed that legislation intended to make our financial system safer and fairer for consumers includes an irresponsible and anti-consumer amendment offered by Senator Durbin. Adopted with no debate or review of facts, the amendment allows retailers’ to shift their cost for accepting debit cards onto the backs of consumers while they continue to receive the value of electronic payments — including faster check-outs, ticket lift and guaranteed payment.

“Written and backed by lobbyists representing the nation’s largest retailers, the Durbin amendment could significantly harm consumers. Consumers could have less choice, higher costs and could experience an increase in costs for checking accounts and online banking fees and reduced debit card benefits like fraud protection and rewards. Those who rely on prepaid cards for government disbursement, such as child support, could be particularly hard hit.

“For financial institutions, this amendment could force them to reduce or eliminate valuable debit and checking account services and could especially harm community banks and credit unions that depend on interchange to offer competitive banking services to firefighters, police officers, teachers, veterans, congressional staffers and other customers.

“The Durbin amendment also gives retailers the power to set arbitrary, minimum purchase requirements for consumers choosing to pay with plastic. This means that customers who want to buy a gallon of milk or loaf of bread could be forced to buy more unnecessarily if they use electronic payments at the register. This could be especially devastating for those on a fixed income who rely on prepaid cards for government disbursements such as social security.

“The Durbin amendment is not germane to the overall Financial Reform bill legislation. We hope Congress sees the amendment for what it is — an attempt by retailers to increase their profits at the expense of consumers.”

SOURCE: Visa Inc. via Businesswire

For Visa Inc. 
Steve Burke, 703-683-5004, ext. 108 
sburke@crcpublicrelations.com