Small Business Owners Push for Swipe Fee Reform

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Small-business owners from across the U.S. and the Reform Swipe Fees Now! coalition joined here yesterday to hold a press conference urging Congress to pass interchange fee reform.

Last month, the Senate passed an amendment by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) to the financial reform bill that would rein in debit card fees. As the House and Senate work on a final version of the bill that will go to President Barack Obama's desk, the organization is asking lawmakers to ensure the Durbin amendment is part of the final bill.

"Last year Visa and MasterCard made more off of my store than I did, and I never saw them stock a shelf, serve a customer or clean the floor – how is that fair?" national spokesman for the coalition and 7-Eleven convenience store franchise owner Dennis Lane asked in a statement ahead of the event. "Small business owners and consumers need some help, so we're coming to Washington to ask our elected representatives to stand up for us and support the Durbin amendment."

The amendment, introduced by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Illinois) would direct the Federal Reserve to issue rules to ensure that debit swipe fees are reasonable and proportional to the processing costs incurred, CSNews Online previously reported. Visa and MasterCard currently charge debit swipe fees of around 1 percent to 2 percent of the transaction amount.

The Durbin amendment also prevents card networks like Visa and MasterCard from penalizing sellers for offering discounts to customers for using competing card networks or other payment methods like cash. The amendment would allow retailer to choose to decline credit cards for small dollar purchases because swipe fees often exceed profits on such sales.

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