Debit-Card Reform Has Helped Consumers Save Almost $18 Billion and Supported 100,000 New Jobs in Three Years

WASHINGTON--()--The following press release was issued by Merchants Payments Coalition:

As part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act, Congress reformed the debit-card swipe fees that banks charge merchants. The regulations have now been in effect three years. In that short time, the debit reform – known as the Durbin Amendment for the senator who introduced it – has created tens of thousands of jobs and saved consumers billions of dollars.

Debit reform reduced the bloated ‘‘swipe fees’’ the nation’s largest banks charge merchants to process the transaction every time a customer swipes a debit card.

“Debit reform has been good for consumers and good for businesses,” said Lyle Beckwith, senior vice president of government relations for NACS, the national convenience-store trade association, and a member of the Merchants Payments Coalition, which represents merchants in the fight against these outrageous fees. “Everyone has saved now that there are some limits on price-fixing by card networks.”

Robert Shapiro, an internationally prominent economist and advisor to presidents, prime ministers and Fortune 100 companies, studied the impact of debit-card reform in its first full year, 2012, and found that consumers saved nearly $6 billion and that merchants created 37,500 new jobs as a result.

Extrapolating those findings, consumers have saved almost $18 billion over the three years reform has been in effect and merchants have created more than 100,000 new jobs.

Had the Fed not buckled under to bank pressure, Shapiro’s findings indicate the savings would have been almost $27 billion over the last three years with 166,000 new jobs.

“Consumers are hurt by high swipe fees,” said Ed Mierzwinski, federal consumer program director for the consumer group U.S. PIRG. “Debit reform has been a real benefit.”

Contrary to statements from the banks, consumers have also saved on bank fees they pay since debit reform came into effect. In early September, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. found that banks now make less of their money from customer fees than at any time in the past 70 years. In fact, such bank fees had risen every year since 1942 but have fallen 21 percent since 2009.

So consumers are saving at stores and at their banks since debit reform came into effect.

Unfortunately, banks continue to reap even more money from credit-card swipe fees year after year, despite increases in volume and innovations in technology that would make the process much cheaper in a truly free market. Visa and MasterCard continue to fix credit card swipe fees at outrageously high levels for their member banks.

A new report published by the Federal Reserve Board reveals further evidence that big banks continue to reap huge dividends from the fees they charge for debit card transactions.

The report found that the cost for debit-card transactions in 2013 was 4.4 cents. Despite this, banks continue to charge on average 24 cents per transaction, yielding a profit margin as high as 445 percent.

On credit cards, for instance, those banks charge from 2 to 4 percent of the credit-card transaction or, say, $4 on a $100 pair of shoes. That gives banks extraordinary profit margins of more than 10,000-percent and raises prices for consumers.

Overall, swipe fees are many merchants’ second-largest operating cost and fastest-growing expense. And swipe fees in the United States are the highest in the industrialized world.

Clearly, reform works for debit cards and is needed for credit cards in order to get savings to merchants and their customers and to create more jobs.

For more information about unfair swipe fees, go to the Merchants Payments Coalition website:

The Merchants Payments Coalition - - is a group of retailers, supermarkets, drug stores, convenience stores, fuel stations, on-line merchants and other businesses who are fighting against unfair credit card fees and fighting for a more competitive and transparent card system that works better for consumers and merchants alike. The coalition's member associations collectively represent about 2.7 million stores with approximately 50 million employees.


Merchants Payments Coalition
Michael Flagg, 202 253-4164


Merchants Payments Coalition
Michael Flagg, 202 253-4164