Fed vs. Merchants Swipe Fee Showdown Set for January

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Fed vs. Merchants Swipe Fee Showdown Set for January


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Retailers have a date to meet the Federal Reserve in court to begin the next step in the debit swipe fee debate.

According to the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), a three-judge panel in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit is slated to hear oral arguments at 9:30 a.m. on Jan. 17. Circuit Judges David Tatel, Harry Edwards and Stephen Williams will hear the appeal.

The swipe fee issue finds itself in court again after the Federal Reserve filed an appeal of U.S. District Judge Richard Leon's rejection of its debit swipe fee rules. In his July 31 ruling, Leon said the Fed disregarded Congress' intent when it decided how much banks can charge retailers to process debit card transactions. As part of the decision, the Fed was instructed to rewrite the rules governing swipe fees. The current rules, in part, include a 21-cent cap.

In September, Leon agreed to keep the existing rules in place while the Fed's appeal is pending. On Oct. 20, the Fed filed a brief in support of its rule implementing the debit card interchange cap required by the Dodd-Frank Act. CUNA and its financial services partners also filed an amicus brief on that date, according to the association.

Merchant briefs in the case will be filed this Wednesday, Nov. 20.

The existing swipe fee rules were implemented in October 2011. Shortly after, a group of retail associations including NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing; the Food Marketing Institute; the National Restaurant Association; and the National Retail Federation filed suit claiming they would be "substantially harmed" by the fees set by the Fed.