Merchants Rally to Fight Legislation Permitting Increases in Debit Card Fees
The National Restaurant Association and the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) reacted to the introduction of legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives to repeal reforms to the fees that merchants pay when a debit card is used to make a purchase.
Laura Chadwick, director of Commerce and Entrepreneurship for the National Restaurant Association, said the proposed legislation would “repeal hard-fought debit swipe fee reform that has helped to keep costs low for restaurant customers,” adding that the existing Durbin Amendment “placed limits on the fees banks charge to process debit card transactions and injected a degree of competition, transparency, and fairness where there was absolutely none before.”
Swipe fee reform, also known as the Durbin Amendment, passed the Senate in 2010 with 64 votes and was included in the Dodd Frank Financial Reform Law. The reforms require that the fees banks and card networks charge every time a debit card is swiped are "reasonable and proportionate to the cost of processing the transaction.” Prior to the passage of reforms, card networks utilized their overwhelming market power to raise fees at will. Swipe fees are estimated to cost merchants and consumers $50 billion every year.
“Repealing Durbin would once again allow banks and card networks to impose outrageous fees on merchants across the country, while hurting everyone outside Wall Street,”said Austen Jensen, RILA's vice president for government affairs. “RILA and the broader merchant community will fight any effort to repeal these reforms and we urge members of Congress to do the same.”
The bill, H.R. 5465, was introduced by Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX).
"Without debit swipe fee reform, banks and card brands will have their cake and eat it too: no liability for counterfeit fraud and an unlimited ability to charge whatever they please for swipe fees—all to the detriment of restaurant consumers and a free market economy," Chadwick concluded.