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    ConocoPhillips To Pass Debit Savings to Dealers

    New swipe fee regulations, including a 21-cent cap on debit card transaction fees, are set to go into effect Oct. 1.

    HOUSTON -- With just a couple of weeks to go before on debit card transaction fees goes into effect, there have been a lot of questions surrounding whether or not retailers would actually pass along the savings to consumers. Now at least one gas retailer is saying yes, sort of.

    A spokesman for ConocoPhillips told CSNews Online that the Houston-based company told its branded customers "effective Oct. 1, ConocoPhillips will pass through debit card rate savings to our customers that have resulted from the Durbin Amendment. The temporary card fee adjustment to PIN Debit, MasterCard and Visa Card fees will be reduced by at least 0.15 percent to 0.20 percent."

    He added that permanent changes to the credit card fee table will be considered once all the impacts of the new regulations are known. ConocoPhillips changes are timed to coincide with the new regulations, which also go into effect Oct. 1.

    Now it will be up to the individual dealers to decide if they are going to pass along the savings to motorists.

    Earlier this summer, Bruce Maples, chairman of the National Coalition of Associations of 7-Eleven Franchisees (NCASEF), said capping debit card transaction fees at 21 cents would save franchisees almost 50 percent of the cost of a debit transaction and consumers will benefit.

    More to point, he explained that lower merchant costs will lead to lower consumer costs. "Most enterprising storeowners will apply the swipe fee savings to lowering product costs in an effort to be even more competitive in the marketplace," Maples said at the time. "Lower swipe fees enable us to give our customers the best cost of goods possible and to grow our businesses by adding employees. Unregulated swipe fees eat away at our revenue and prohibit us from hiring more employees and becoming more involved with the communities we serve."

    But not everyone is so sure all the players in the retail industry are going to pass along any savings. In an ACI Worldwide teleconference today in early July, Rob Seward, product line manager at ACI Worldwide, wondered if the retailers are prepared to extend any savings from debit card transactions along to their customers, adding that the retailers used this argument to gain support from the public during the years-long battle for swipe fee reform.

    "I think the retailers have won a round in a bout, but the bout is far from over," he explained. "I think the industry will continue to evolve despite the legislative component to it now."

    Seward added that retailers first need to have a firm understanding of how much their payment transactions are costing them now, before the cap goes into effect. While the number floated during the debates has been linked to the average industry standard, individual operators need to know the number that is specific to them. Only then can they track any savings resulting from reform, he said.


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