US retailers have hailed as a victory a bill passed in the Senate regulating bank fees imposed on payment card transactions.
The National Retail Federation has marked the bill as a major victory for consumers and retailers, paving the way for reasonable debit card fees and the freedom to offer discounts on products not purchased by credit card.
NRF senior vice president Mallory Duncan said: “This is an all-round win for consumers. By requiring debit fees that are reasonable and proportional to actual costs, retailers will see their costs reduced and will be able to pass on the savings through lower prices and greater value for their customers.”
The Federal Reserve will set regulations resulting in “reasonable” and “proportional” swipe fees for debit cards. The amendment will also bar the card industry from interfering with retailers who wish to offer discounts for customers who pay by cash, cheque or debit card.
Swipe fees are a percentage of the transaction charged by the banks each time a card is used to make a purchase. This fee can vary from 1% to 2%, and in some instances higher for credit cards. In 2008, the total swipe fees charged to consumers and retailers in the USA by Visa and MasterCard banks totalled $48 billion (£31 billion), which equates to $427 (£276) per household in the US.