Debit Card Interchange Fees

On June 21, 2010 an agreement was reached with key conferees on the Wall Street reform bill regarding the Durbin amendment regulating interchange fees which passed the Senate 64-33.

There are a number of modifications and compromises that were made to the Durbin interchange amendment. Some of those were:

•Discounting between card networks
The Senate-passed amendment provided that card networks could no longer prevent merchants from offering customers a discount to use one card network vs. another (e.g., a discount to use Visa vs. MasterCard), and that this discount would apply in both the credit card and debit card contexts.

This provision has been removed from the amendment. In its place the compromise includes a provision directing the Fed to issue rules preventing card networks from requiring that their debit cards can only be used on one debit card network (thereby ensuring that merchants will have the choice of at least two networks upon which to run debit transactions). This provision also provides additional competition to a previously non-competitive part of the market. It allows merchants to choose the debit network with the lowest cost – the opposite of the current system where merchants are forced to use a specific network with fixed prices.
•Discounting between forms of payment
The Senate-passed amendment provided that card networks cannot prevent merchants from offering a discount for one form of payment vs. another (cash vs. check vs. credit vs. debit). The compromise clarifies that these discounts cannot be offered if the discounts differentiate between card issuers or card networks.
•Setting of maximum/minimum transaction thresholds for use of a credit card
The Senate-passed amendment provided that card networks could not prevent merchants from setting a minimum or maximum dollar amount for payment by credit card.
The compromise provides that such a minimum may not exceed $10, with authority given to the Fed to increase that dollar amount. The compromise also limits the ability to set maximums for payment by credit card to the Federal government and colleges and universities. The compromise further clarifies the Senate language and establishes that a minimum payment not exceeding $10 – matching laws currently on the books in a number of states.