Senate weighs delaying cap on debit swipe fees

A chip and pin debit console.

Jeremy Hobson: Every time you swipe your debit card to make a purchase the store has to pay a small fee to the banks. The new financial reform law put a cap on that fee. But there's been a lot of pushback from the banks. And today the Senate will vote on an amendment from Democrat Jon Tester to postpone the implementation of that cap.

Marketplace's David Gura reports from Washington on what this battle means for you and me.

David Gura: Trade groups for banks and retailers say this is all about consumers.

Ad from the Electronic Payments Coalition: Now I read that using my debit card, which is so convenient, could become restricted and cost more.

Ad from the National Retail Federation: Senator Tester says he's for the consumer, but Tester lets the big banks swipe our money.

But retail analyst Carl Howe says this isn't about us.

Carl Howe: The funny thing about this whole argument is consumers will see no change whichever way it goes.

He says banks will continue to do just fine, whether or not the government caps swipe fees. And sure, retailers stand to save some money if the government caps them -- billions, in fact -- but banking analyst Ron Shevlin says nothing indicates they'd pass those savings on to us.

Ron Shevlin: If Ferrari could pay 3 percent less for glass for its cars, do you really think that the price of a Ferrari would go down by 3 percent? Of course not.

Banks and retailers want us to think they're worried about our wallets -- when what they're really worried about is their own.

In Washington, I'm David Gura for Marketplace.

About the author

David Gura is a reporter for Marketplace, based in the Washington, D.C. bureau.
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Mr. Shelvin brings up excellent points. I do not understand how Senator Durbin and so many other congressmen miss the point (or are they?) of helping whom they propose they intend to help: the business owner.
I want to know the real answer. Why not interview Sen. Durbin for the answer?
Why is the debit rate cap not set to 12 cents for the Merchant?
It is meaningless to cap it for the banks or processors who simply pocket the savings for themselves.
The apparent answer seems to be that congress cares only for the banks and not business owners at all.
Chase Holden
Vice President Merchant Relations
Merchant Service Group, Inc.

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