Senate Bill Includes Swipe Fee Reform

"These new provisions will bring in added costs, since the insurance companies will have to provide coverage regardless of preexisting conditions and make it totally transferable. The premiums have to go up."

Bill Douglass, founder, Douglass Distributing Co. (see page 90)

QUICK FACT C-store in-store sales grew 4.2 percent in 2009, beating the percentage gains made in the non-recessionary years of 2008 (2.5 percent) and 2007 (3.9 percent).

Source: Convenience Store News' 2010 Industry Report

Amendment to cap ATM fees not included in Senate version

Retailers across the U.S. breathed a two-fold sigh of relief recently when the Senate passed a version of a financial regulatory bill that contained an amendment to address swipe fee reform, while also lacking a measure to cap ATM fees.

On May 20, the Senate, by a 59-39 vote, passed the financial reform legislation, which has been called the most extensive since the Great Depression. The House passed its version of the bill in December 2009, and as of press time, legislators were meeting to reconcile the two versions. Democrats hoped to have a bill on the president's desk by July 4.

The Senate's version of the reform contained an amendment by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) that would ensure debit swipe fees are proportional to the processing costs incurred. It also prevents card networks from penalizing retailers that offer discounts for using other payment methods such as cash, and would allow retailers to choose to decline credit cards for small purchases.

"This historic vote would not have been possible without the tremendous support of our members who called on their senators and asked them to support this common-sense, consumer-friendly amendment," NACS CEO and President Hank Armour said in a statement.

The amendment passed the Senate by a 64-33 vote. The House legislation did not include swipe fee reform.

Meanwhile, another amendment to the financial reform bill that was harmful to convenience store operators did not make it to the final Senate version. This measure, by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), would have capped ATM fees paid by consumers at 50 cents per transaction.

Carl Myers, co-founder of ATM ServNet LLC, a Cedarville, Ohio-based firm that manages ATM machines mostly in c-stores, told Convenience Store News: "This legislation would force all of the companies who process c-store transactions to go out of business. … If an ATM cannot process the information, the c-store's ATM is dead. Only the banks will survive and they will only be able to operate ATMs at their branches, not at c-stores, due to the expense being four to five times the income."

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