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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to repeal debit card swipe fee reforms would cost consumers more than $6 billion a year in savings that retailers would pass along to customers, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). The swipe fee reforms took effect Oct. 1.
"This misguided legislation would take billions of dollars in savings away from American consumers," noted Mallory Duncan, senior vice president and general counsel at NRF. "The banks tried to stop this law from being passed, they tried to delay it once it was passed, and they managed to water down the amount merchants and consumers will save. Now that it's just barely taken effect, they are trying to repeal it before anyone can benefit. Congress needs to stop doing the bidding of the banks and think about the people who paid for the bank bailout not so long ago -- consumers and Main Street merchants."
Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Bill Owens (D-N.Y.) are behind the repeal legislation. The regulations, set by the Federal Reserve under last year's Wall Street reform law, capped debit card swipe fees charged by big banks at about 21 cents, down from an average of 44 cents.
Although retailers won't know exactly how much they're saving until they receive their bank statements over the next few weeks, they're already planning a number of ways to use the money to increase value for customers, including overall lower prices, specific discounts for using debit cards and hiring more staff to improve customer service, the trade organization said.