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    Industry Rips ‘Compromise’ Swipe Fee Amendment

    FMI, RILA say bipartisan measure would benefit big banks

    Retailers have come out against an amendment to the Economic Development Revitalization Act of 2011 offered by Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT) and Bob Corker (R-TN), which would delay debit card swipe fee reforms.

    “The latest Tester-Corker swipe fee language … was developed by big banks, for big banks, without input from retailers or consumers who are counting the days until reforms take effect July 21,” noted Jennifer Hatcher, SVP, government relations at the Arlington, Va.-based Food Marketing Institute (FMI).

    “Masked as a delay bill, the new legislation would effectively kill swipe fee reforms,” continued Hatcher. “Any vote to delay the Federal Reserve’s swipe fee rule is premature at this point, since no one has yet seen the Federal Reserve’s final rule. The Federal Reserve is working on revision to a final rule that is expected to be published in the near future.”

    According to Sandy Kennedy, president of the Arlington-based Retail Industry Leaders Association, “The debit swipe fee reforms scheduled to take effect next month will fix the broken debit market and bring meaningful relief to merchants and consumers struggling in a stagnant economy.”

    Through their proposed amendment, however, “Sens. Tester and Corker are intent on taking all the relief away,” said Kennedy. “While proponents try to cast this amendment as a ‘compromise,’ it is just the opposite. The Tester/Corker Amendment is a remarkable giveaway to big banks and credit card companies at the expense of merchants and consumers, pure and simple.”

    Both trade groups urged U.S. senators not to support the proposed amendment.

    Since 2008, 1 million businesses have gone out of business, causing the loss 3.6 million jobs, observed FMI’s Hatcher, who believes that excessive swipe fees were a large contributor to the problem, while their reform could help the economy rebound.
     

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