Durbin Amendment Passes; Retailers Rejoice

May 17, 2010 

Merchant groups lauded Senators for passing an amendment to a massive financial services reform bill that addresses interchange fees assessed against purchases made with debit cards. Senators voted 64 – 33 in favor of the amendment offered by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) which is designed to reduce the “swipe fees” charged by Visa and MasterCard by giving the Federal Reserve responsibility to ensure they are “reasonable and proportional.” Durbin said: “Passage of this measure gives small businesses and their customers a real chance in the fight against the outrageously high swipe fees charged by Visa and MasterCard. It will prevent the giant credit card companies from using anti-competitive practices, allow merchants to offer discounts to their customers and restore common sense and fairness to this broken system.” The National Retail Federation, Retail Industry Leaders Association and Merchants Payments Coalition, not unexpectedly, all responded favorably to the vote. “Plastic checks—debit cards—formerly passed at face value, but now the biggest banks and card companies are using them to circumvent the system and are reducing the face value of debit card transactions through higher fees,” NRF Senior Vice President for Government Relations Steve Pfister said in the letter. “This hurts retailers and merchants of all sizes, including doctors’ offices, restaurants and florists, and it causes all of our customers to pay more.”