The National Retail Federation (NRF) and retailers, after months of aggressive campaigning to preserve swipe fee reform, are disappointed by the Federal Reserve’s decision to set the debit card swipe fee at $0.21 per transaction. The NRF recently launched a 60 day advocacy campaign in an effort to, “expand retail’s advocacy footprint to match the industry’s broad economic footprint,” explains Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the NRF. With the new strategic plan, the NRF committed new resources to ensure that retailers had a voice that would be heard during every important public policy decision. Unfortunately, that voice was not strong enough to convince the Federal Reserve to follow through with its promise of a $0.12 fee per transaction.
Debit Card Swipe Fees Will Affect Customers
Things were looking up three weeks ago when the Senate rejected an amendment that would have delayed swipe fee reform by at least a year. The NRF believed this win had been a successful result of its lobbying and media campaign. Yet, with the Federal Reserve’s final decision made, the NRF and retailers are wondering who really won the debate? While $0.21 is better than $0.44, it is far from $0.12. According to the NRF, “Banks that get their own rates, rather than following industry fee schedules, will be free to charge any fee they believe the market will bear.” American consumers are really the ones suffering from the decision, notes Shay, saying, “We are extremely disappointed that the Federal Reserve chose to be influenced by special interests and ignored the will of Congress and American consumers. While the rate will provide modest relief, it does not go far enough.” Retailers hoping to pass on discounts to their customers are unable to offer the deals they would like, still feeling the financial burden of swipe fees.
This story has been adapted from an NRF press release.