Report – Consumers Divided on Interchange Issues

Sept. 7, 2010

While merchants won a significant battle with the inclusion of the Durbin Amendment in financial reform that will limit swipe fees on debit transactions and enable discounts for using cash, a recent survey found the battle for consumers’ hearts and minds on the issue is still being waged. Most consumers felt the ability to offer discounts for paying cash instead of by credit card was appropriate. Overwhelmingly, however, consumers believe merchants will not pass along any saving from interchange limits in the form of lower retail prices, according to a survey by payments consultancy Auriemma Consulting Group. When asked about whether it is appropriate for merchants to charge less to customers who pay with cash, only 20 percent voiced opposition, while 42 percent were neutral and 38 percent approved of the idea.    “Somewhat surprisingly, heavy credit card users and holders of rewards cards were no more likely than the overall population to oppose the idea of differential pricing,” said Nancy Stahl, editor of AGC’s Cardbeat.   However, when they were asked how merchants would respond if Congress passed a law that reduced or capped the amount of merchant fees, only 14 percent thought it was likely that they would pass along the savings to customers by reducing pricing.