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

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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

 

Most Recent Tweets from @WayTooHigh [#SwipeFees]

July 16, 2010

  

  1. GOP against financial reform, concern re “competition,” if honest issue, should break up MasterCard, VISA 80% monopoly #swipefees 
  2. UPDATED BANKING NEWS Lake Forest autism charity wins $20,000 in online vote http://ht.ly/18aqjj   
  3. Shareholders will have to force banks not to buy elections   
  4. In the Economy | Dow Dives 260 on Earnings, Consumer Worries http://ht.ly/18anMg   
  5. Financial Blog Alert CD rates in Indianapolis, Indiana – If you like to stay local with your CD investments, Bankrat… http://ht.ly/18anN1 
  6. Bank of Americia, a leading credit card issuer and mjr VISA/MasterCard shareholder, down more than 9% today #swipefees   
  7. #SwipeFees = anti-competitive; like Pepsi/Coca-Cola telling stores they will be fined if they charged people less for other brand   
  8. Could you imagine if credit card biz settled for a bln $, let’s say, they’d made that up in a few days of #SwipeFees. NOT   
  9. RT @Taylor_West: I also missed my one-year Twitter anniversary, which was apparently six days ago. Alas. [Happy Tweetversary, Taylor] 
  10. Financial Blog Alert Ignore the doomsayers? – You may have heard predictions of gloom and doom for the stock market … http://ht.ly/18aiDh   
  11. MasterCard & VISA are desperate, unAmerican and enemy of small businesses #SwipeFees   
  12. #swipefees fund MasterCard, VISA, banks & credit unions vaults not electronic payment network, they was built decades ago   
  13. MasterCard & VISA have ~100 #swipefees, better chance in Vegas guessing what your #SwipeFees were   
  14. http://www.enewspf.com/index.php/latest-news/latest-local/17565-durbin-statement-on-the-passage-of-sweeping-wall-street-reform-bill- 
  15. UPDATED BANKING NEWS Asia mostly lower, as strong yen slaps Nikkei http://ht.ly/18afTA   
  16. Financial Blog Alert How optimistic are you? – So how are we all feeling two years after the global economic collaps… http://ht.ly/18afVB   
  17. Bank of America emphasizes its ATMs with new eBanking account http://ht.ly/18afVX   
  18. Financial Reform Could Hurt Consumers – A change in regulations for debit cards may benefit retailers to the detrime… http://ht.ly/18afX2   
  19. Visa fake “survey” not 1st time tricking consumers. They fund “Americans for Consumer Education and Competition” http://ht.ly/20eCP   
  20. Next up, post financial reform bill is curbing MasterCard, Visa and banks’ CREDIT card antiquated #Swipefees   
  21. Financial Reform Bill Passes — And Regulators Are Left… http://huff.to/8Z5xzp (HuffPost) #SwipeFees   
  22. Banks Already Gearing Up To Profit Off Of New Rules http://huff.to/d9AAzp #swipefees. (HuffPost)   
  23. I’m competitive, a capitalist and staunchly pro-consumer AND support the new Financial Reform Bill/Law #swipefees   
  24. RT @Taylor_West: Big win for small biz in #WallStReform – finally some fairness on debit & credit card #swipefees. [tkx to you too!]   
  25. RT @PMAMagazine: #PMANewsline: Retailers benefit from steady second quarter e-commerce sales http://bit.ly/9vDaZG   
  26. Financial reform creates political opportunity to reinvent all credit/debit card #swipefees $MA $V   
  27. Over 5 1/2 years, WayTooHigh.com has nearly 1800 posts battling MasterCard/VISA #swipefees [SwipeFees.org]   
  28. If US were to reduce interchange #SwipeFees rate from 2.0%t to 0.5%, the savings would be $36 bln p year, (Economic stimulus)   
  29. Thanks to the mlns of other retailers/ecommerce biz owners for helping to pass financial reform, limit debit card #swipefees   
  30. RT @NACSonline: @WayTooHigh thanks for all your help!! [you too, big day, next “credit card” #swipefee reform, Mitch]   
  31. Financial Blog Alert New overdraft regulation pulls down CD rates http://ht.ly/18acG0   
  32. Free travel rewards on your credit cards same marketing scheme as comps at casinos. Not FREE + YOU pay #swipefees   
  33. Post financial reform law, all merchants & ecommerce biz’ must double-down to reform credit card #swipefees too   
  34. Visa, MasterCard compete to deliver highest returns to banks rather than lowest prices to consumers #SwipFees   
  35. credit card electronic payment network must be paved with GOLD, taking in ~$120,000,000 in “Swipe” EVERY day   
  36. In the Economy | Stocks Jolted by Consumer, Earnings Issues – U.S. stocks got off to a weak start Friday after Bank … http://ht.ly/18aa5P   
  37. Financial Blog Alert Nervous dates for Obamacare prom – Now the delicate courting dance begins between the Obama adm… http://ht.ly/18aa6s   
  38. Can Twitter SM tool help shame giant Visa and MasterCard #SwipeFees cartel; follow along and let us see (@WayTooHigh  
  39. MasterCard, VISA “rewards” uses accurate name; #swipefees reward BANKS   
  40. When the mlns of merchants + all cardholders beat MasterCard/VISA cartel, must demand they don’t raise other fees #swipefees   
  41. Merchants/consumers pay charge/debit card #swipefees, but often “rewards” never redeamed   
  42. Last holdout relic from analog carbon copy analog days are credit card interchange #swipefees   
  43. What next? Will VISA buy a “study” proclaiming all cardholders use all their accumulated “reward” perks. Prepaid 100% via #swipefees   
  44. Headline News – July 16, 2010 – Headline News is brought to you by Glenbrook Partners and our PaymentsJobs.com job b… http://ht.ly/18a7jf   
  45. In the Economy | Stocks Hit by Consumer Data, Mixed Earnings http://ht.ly/18a7k1   
  46. MasterCard, VISA, banks’ $48bln #swipefees compromise strength of every business worldwide.   
  47. GOP against financial reform, concern re “competition,” if honest issue, should break up MasterCard, VISA 80% monopoly #swipefees   
  48. UPDATED BANKING NEWS Citigroup profit dips 10 percent, loan losses fall http://ht.ly/18a4D5   
  49. In the Economy | Stocks in Red on Big Earnings Day – U.S. stocks got off to a weak start Friday after Bank of Americ… http://ht.ly/18a4Dh
  50. Financial Blog Alert Don’t click on that FDIC’ link – The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., or FDIC, has issued a war… http://ht.ly/18a4DR   
  51. Financial Blog Alert Feds tell banks to be nice to folks affected by oil gusher http://ht.ly/18a4DQ   
  52. Last time VISA, MasterCard lost suit, paid ~$3B settlement then RAISED fees to more than cover, not this time! END #swipefees   
  53. Thanks @NACSOnline and your members for helping to pass financial reform & limit debit card #swipefees   
  54. Mitch Goldstone, Pres & CEO of ScanMyPhotos.com calls MasterCard/Visa #SwipeFees “a vulgar statement of credit card greed.”
  55. MNRetailersAsso NRF Calls Passage of Landmark Swipe Fee Fix a Major Victory for Retailers and Consumers over Debit and Credit Card Fees http://bit.ly/9sihKO 
  56.  National Restaurant Association Praises Senate Passage of Interchange Fee Reform http://bit.ly/d1eeIe   
  57. Who makes more money from apps, credit card companies for Apple? Yup! The banks in #swipefees http://ow.ly/22DGy   
  58. Bank of America Corp. reported Friday a net profit that slipped 3% in the second quarter  
  59. Florida Bank to Acquire Anderen – Florida Bank Group said Thursday that it will acquire Anderen Financial, of Palm H… http://ht.ly/189Zb1
  60. UPDATED BANKING NEWS JP Morgan Had a House Made of Diamonds, and So Should You [Recessionomics] http://ht.ly/189ZcC   
  61. In the Economy | Futures Pause After Bank of America Earnings Beat http://ht.ly/189Zd6   
  62. UPDATED BANKING NEWS Market Snapshot: U.S. stocks get lift from BP, Goldman news http://ht.ly/189IEH   
  63. Congress Passes Financial Reform Legislation – The U.S. Senate gave final passage today to the long debated financia… http://ht.ly/189GDL
  64. National Restaurant Association Praises Senate Passage of Interchange Fee Reform http://bit.ly/d1eeIe   
  65. #SwipeFees Update | Most Issuers Report Fewer Chargeoffs in June http://ht.ly/189BNG   
  66. #SwipeFees DC News | Think Reg Reform Is Done? Just Wait for the ‘Corrections’ Bill http://ht.ly/189BNJ   
  67. Senate passes FinReg (Financial Reform Bill) #swipefees. Good 1st step in reining in MasterCard/VISA fees   
  68. #SwipeFees DC News | Congress Finishes Regulatory Reform – The Senate, 60 to 39, approved the version completed by a… http://ht.ly/189sqz 2  
  69. Financial Blog Alert Women need long-term care insurance even if it is pricey http://ht.ly/189ssN   
  70. Post financial reform law, all merchants & ecommerce biz’ must double-down to reform credit card #swipefees too
  71. Thanks to the mlns of other retailers/ecommerce biz owners for helping to pass financial reform, limit debit card #swipefees  
  72. Thanks the National Retail Federation for helping to pass financial reform & limit debit card #swipefees 2  
  73. Thanks to 7-Eleven franchisee and customers for helping to pass financial reform & limit debit card #swipefees   
  74. RT @cbsmoneywatch: Senate Passes Financial Reform http://bnet.io/9c4Tgq
  75. UPDATED BANKING NEWS J.P. Morgan Chase earnings surge 76% – J.P. Morgan Chase said Thursday that its second-quarter … http://ht.ly/189pMo 1
  76. Financial Blog Alert Financial reform will change mortgage world http://ht.ly/189pNe
  77. Can credit card issuers and acquirers become like rats in a cage? RT (@WayTooHigh) to make it happen 
  78. Funny, banks say merchants will keep #swipefees savings, hey, that’s what THEY do as their costs go down, they raise fees!   
  79. SwipeFees,net, SwipeFees.org and the 5 1/2 yr WayTooHigh.com blog shut down this am – trying to get reestablished. Hello media, legal team
  80. Banks must be steaming now, not directly accusing ’em of forcing WayTooHigh.com down, but interesting FinReg vote same day?!
  81. Senate passes FinReg (Financial Reform Bill) #swipefees. Good 1st step in reining in MasterCard/VISA fees

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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

National Restaurant Association Applauds Senate Interchange Reform Amendment

May 17, 2010

[via press release from National Restaurant Association]

Provision Will Help Restaurateurs By Ensuring More Reasonable Costs to Processing Transactions

(Washington, D.C.) – The National Restaurant Association today praised U.S. Senate passage of an amendment sponsored by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) that will give restaurants and other merchants a break on some payment card-processing fees set by banks and credit card companies. The Senate voted 64 to 33 to include the proposal in the financial reform bill, which is expected to pass the Senate sometime next week.
“Interchange fees are often restaurants’ third greatest operating expense, behind labor and food costs. Merchants pay about $48 billion in interchange fees every year,” said Scott DeFife, Executive Vice President for Policy and Government Affairs for the Association. “We are grateful to Senator Durbin for his leadership on this important issue, and appreciate the bipartisan support for addressing the problem of interchange fee practices that provide zero transparency or negotiation with merchants.”

Interchange fees, also known as “swipe fees,” and related contractual restrictions benefit credit card companies and card-issuing banks at the expense of merchants and consumers. The amendment would authorize the Federal Reserve to issue regulations that ensure interchange fees imposed on debit card transactions are “reasonable and proportional” to the costs of processing transactions. Debit transactions come directly from consumers’ checking accounts and are not credit, yet the interchange rate on debit transactions continues to increase.

The proposal would also permit merchants to set minimum and maximum transaction levels for credit cards. As a result, retailers would be free to choose their payment methods. Under current rules, merchants that accept credit or debit cards cannot set minimum transaction levels, although they sometimes lose money on small charge or debit transactions. Additionally, the amendment would increase competition and allow businesses to offer discounts to customers who pay with cash, checks, PIN debit, etc., which carry lower rates than credit cards.

The Association has long advocated for fairer transaction fees and is a member of the Merchants Payment Coalition, 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. The coalition recently launched a new ad campaign to educate Congress and the public about interchange fees.