Bernanke: Fed Won’t Meet Deadline for Debit Interchange Rule

April 7, 2011

In a letter sent recently to the House Financial Services and Senate Banking Committees, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said the Fed would be unable to meet the April 21 deadline to formulate the final rule implementing debit interchange regulation. Bernanke said the deluge of public comments—more than 11,000 of them—in response to the Fed’s December proposal has forced the delay. “The issues raised by the comments are complex and difficult and are significant to the payments system, its providers and its users,” he wrote. “We are reviewing these comments and the issues they raise very carefully within the framework established by the Act.” While legislation has been introduced in Congress that would delay implementation of any debit interchange rules for two years, Bernanke expects the Fed to have finished its review and issue a final rule before July 21, the date the on which the Durbin Amendment of the Dodd-Frank Act is to become effective. Retailers have cheered Bernanke’s determination to get the rule implemented. “Retailers want to begin passing on swipe fee savings to their customers as soon as possible, and today’s announcement means those plans will be able to move forward as planned despite the anti-consumer efforts of some in Congress,” NRF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Mallory Duncan said. “The Fed has received thousands of comments on this proposal and it is appropriate for that input to be carefully and thoroughly reviewed. If they take a few extra weeks, we understand.”