Merchant Groups Laud Senators for Tackling Swipe Fees

May 21, 2010

Late Thursday the U.S. Senate approved a sweeping financial services reform package by a vote of 59-39. The measure included an amendment introduced by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) that would limit swipe fees on debit transactions. Despite intense lobbying from the financial services industry, President Obama said the goal of the legislation “is not to punish the banks, but to protect the larger economy and the American people from the kind of upheavals that we’ve seen in the past few years.  And today’s action was a major step forward in achieving that goal.” The National Retail Federation (NRF), which estimated that swipe fees on debit transactions cost merchants more than $10 billion dollars just in the past year alone, cautioned that the bill will have to be reconciled with the house version passed in December, which did not address swipe fees. “We know the banks and card companies will do everything in their power to strip retail and customer-friendly provisions from any final law,” said Matt Shay, president and CEO of the NRF. The jockeying from those groups began immediately as Visa Inc. released a statement that said the Durbin amendment is anti-consumer. “Rather than hurt workers and families, swipe fee reform will help small businesses grow, improve wages and benefits, and lower prices for consumers,” shot back Dennis Lane , single store 7-Eleven Franchise owner and national spokesman for the campaign to Reform Swipe Fees NOW! “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.”