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]

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What Is “Interchange” [video: Electronic Payments Coalition]

September 20, 2009

You just have to watch this how-to video. The key facts about illegal antitrust price-fixing are omitted, as are the reasons why merchant interchange fees in the U.S. are upwards of six-times what other industrialized nations pay. Remember, this video and the organization promoting it is funded by the banks and Visa and MasterCard. 

The problem is that few understand what these fees are; it is a hidden tax on consumers – amounting to upwards of $48 billion in anticompetitive charges each year. As proof, since this video was posted, only about 450 people viewed it, which my guess was largely from those who produced it.


“Swipe Fee” Reform – International Lessons (via UnFairCreditCardFees.com)

September 18, 2009

Click here to read the recent report profiling interchange merchant interchange fees rates.  U.S. credit card interchange fees ~2X rates in UK, New Zealand.  ~4X rates in Australia. ~6X cross border MasterCard rates in the EU

Excerpt:

 

 

 

 

[Source: UnfairCreditCardFees.com, Merchants Payments Coalition]

“Not only do other nations provide lower interchange rates, but we can also learn from other countries’ experiences with interchange reform. Major countries around the world have addressed interchange reform, with some already demonstrating beneficial results for their economies. In particular, lessons learned from experiences in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the European Union, provide instructive examples about why interchange reform makes economic sense in the U.S. – especially now.”

 


Merchants and Consumers Welcome Judiciary Committee Passage of Bipartisan Legislation to Crack Down on Hidden and Excessive Credit Card Fees

July 17, 2008
WASHINGTON, July 17, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire via COMTEX/ — Credit Card Fair Fee Act Would Mean Free Market Transparency, End Card Price Fixing
The retail community welcomed the House Judiciary Committee’s passage of the “Credit Card Fair Fee Act” of 2008 (H.R. 5546) with the support of virtually equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats.
“The days when Visa and MasterCard are able to impose exorbitant fees on consumers are numbered. Now that Congress and the public are learning how credit card fees are driving up the price of gas, food and other necessities, the big credit card companies are in for a very rough ride,” said Richard Oneslager, Chairman, National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), a member of the Merchants Payments Coalition.
Interchange fees amount to approximately $2 of every $100 spent using credit cards. Credit card interchange fees cost Americans $42 billion last year and inflate the cost of virtually all retail goods, but especially skyrocketing food and gasoline prices. Currently, credit card interchange rates are set in secret, hidden from view, and exclude merchants from the negotiating process.
“From the cost of groceries to the cost of gasoline, working families are feeling the pain in their wallets,” said John Motley, Senior Vice President, Government and Public Affairs, the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), an MPC member. “The abuse of American consumers and businesses by credit card companies and big banks with a hidden fee that drives up the cost of every retail item needs to end.”
The Credit Card Fair Fee Act will allow merchants for the first time to be included in the negotiating process with Visa and MasterCard, separately with their banks, to come up with a voluntary agreement on interchange rates and terms.
“On behalf of our retail members and their customers, NACS applauds Chairman John Conyers and the Republicans and Democrats of the House Judiciary Committee who stood together today to pass H.R. 5546, the Credit Card Fair Fee Act,” said Oneslager. “This strong show of bipartisanship vindicates the efforts of thousands of NACS members that have taken the issue of outrageous credit card fees and practices to Congress. We look forward to similar bi-partisan support by the full House and Senate.”
The Merchants Payments Coalition (MPC), UnfairCreditCardFees.com, 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 further information, please visit www.unfaircreditcardfees.com.
SOURCE Merchants Payments Coalition

Merchants Say That Visa Fee Cut is Less Than Meets the Eye

June 27, 2008

WASHINGTON, June 27 MPC-Visa-fee-cuts Credit Card Fees on Gasoline Might Actually Be Higher, Not Lower, Under New Visa Program

 

WASHINGTON, June 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Visa’s announcement yesterday regarding new interchange policies on gasoline sales shows that interchange fees raise gas prices, but it’s not clear what else the announcement means. If Visa is willing to admit that interchange fees are causing added pain at the pump, why won’t it admit its role in rising food and other consumer prices? Interchange fees cost Americans $42 billion last year – more than all other credit card fees combined. It inflates the cost of nearly everything consumers purchase whether they pay with plastic or cash.”While the devil is always in the details and we haven’t seen any details yet, it looks like the new structure for credit cards combines a higher fixed fee with a lower percentage fee,” said Hank Armour, President and CEO of the National Association of Convenience Stores. “The net result of this combination may actually be higher fees for those transactions under $60 for those customers using regular Visa credit cards without a rewards program.”

On debit card transactions, the cap on interchange may only apply to gasoline purchases of more than $97.50. That is a small number of transactions – especially because Visa banks reserve the right not to give gasoline retailers anything more than $75 on a sale.

Unfortunately, we may not know the impact for months because Visa has said this will only affect debit card transactions on gasoline in mid-July and won’t affect credit card transactions until October – long after the end of the summer driving season (and the opportunity for Congressional action).

While we welcome ANY recognition by Visa of the interchange fee pain, the confusion and potential negative effects of these changes might have been avoided if this were the result of a negotiation between merchants and Visa. H.R. 5546 and S. 3086, the Credit Card Fair Fee Act, would allow that to happen and ensure a market process for interchange fees with benefits to consumers throughout the country. Visa and MasterCard have a collective 80-plus percent market share and that gives them a stranglehold on retailers. The legislation would counteract that problem. Currently, rates are set in secret and the process is hidden making it practically impossible for retailers and consumers to know how much they are really paying in credit card fees, or why.

The Merchants Payments Coalition (MPC), UnfairCreditCardFees.com, 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 further information, please visit

 

http://www.unfaircreditcardfees.com

.[source: Merchants Payments Coalition]

 

 

 

 


“Old Foes Unite to Keep Charging Credit Card Fees to Merchants” (via The Hill)

May 12, 2008

WayTooHigh.com – The Credit Card Interchange Report Comments:

Even financial interpreter Jim Cramer is in for a grueling week as Visa and MasterCard readies for what both companies warn might lead to their “insolvency” [according to their SEC filing statements].For an update on Thursday’s planned Capital Hill combat against the giant credit card associations and its member banks, click here to read Jessica Holzer’s May 12th The Hill column.   

You know there are splinters in Visa and MasterCard’s haywired argument when lobbyists for the banks and the credit unions join forces; while they are gasping, we are ready to further illuminate the issues. It has been more than three-years since launching the class-action complaint to arrest this $40 billion annual hidden tax on merchants and consumers.

Let us not forgot that interchange fees were designed decades ago to cover the cost of a four-party electronic payment network – back when we used manual credit card imprinters and mailed in thick bundles of carbon copy credit card receipts to clear the payments. Back then, it took days to transfer funds, today it is instant and efficient.

Today’s efficiencies have done away with the antiquated payment process, yet the fees are higher than ever. Why the disparity as interchange rates abroad are a fraction of the nearly 2.0% tax charged in the U.S.?

 

 

This is the “perfect storm.” 

We are ready to explain why interchange fees are obsolete, illegal and anti-competitive. Even the banking industry’s shareholders are in for another bombshell so audible and eclipsing that the impact from their executive’s round of previously misfortunate decisions and billions in prior writeoffs may be petite in comparison. A trial by jury allows fort trebled damages.
When was the last time you heard the U.S. Federal Reserve explain that interchange fees “dampen innovation” for check writing? Never: there are no interchange fees to clear checks. Likewise, why hasn’t the Fed explained that merchants “derive huge benefits” from accepting paper checks for payment? Again, there are no fees to clear a check and if it is so significant a cost, why hasn’t the banking industry demanded interchange fees for that payment form?
The banking lobbyists are ready and so are we, but our story is being told by regular shop owners to personalize the issue. After years of toil, merchants and consumers are at the cusp of forcing the demise of these unbridled and unnecessary interchange fees on American’s and our neighbors around the world. The American public is fed up with the banking industry’s mismanagement and audacity; the days of cartel-like price-fixing will vanish, just as did those bulky manual credit card imprinters also disappear.
“Visa’s IPOIs Worth a Close Reading” (via WSJ)

Understanding the Word “Insolvency” Is Crystal Clear

Visa Inc. Files 10-K Annual Report, Amends S-1 Registration

  

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