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Log In / Register | Dec 19, 2014

Banks and Big Boxes Brawl over Debit-Card Fees

On opposite sides of the debit-card-fee fence, both big banks and big retailers nevertheless say that they have the consumer's best interests at heart as they try to win Congress over to their respective points of view. Big banks seek to change a new law, saying debit card swipe fees should be kept as they are — high. Biig box stores say the opposite — they should be drastically lowered as called for.

Big banks, apparently realizing that most will not believe that they have the American consumer's best interests at heart, are trying to keep their lobbying on this issue out of the limelight.

The new law, if implemented as is, will affect far more than big banks and big retailers. The entire banking industry can expect less in debit card swipe income and merchants will be paying much less in fees. Banks get $16 billion in annual revenue from the debit card fees. The law's cap is proposed to be set at 12 cents, down from a 2009 average of 44 cents per transaction.

"Major banks such as Citigroup (C), JPMorgan Chase (JPM), and Bank of America are leading the opposition, says [Senator Dick] Durbin [D-Illinois], but publicly keeping quiet. "There's a lot of money on the table," Durbin says. "The big banks and big credit-card companies are keeping as low a profile as humanly possible," using the small lenders "as their beards."

Read the Bloomberg Businessweek article

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