May 31, 2011 02:53 PM Eastern Daylight Time
NRF and Maine Merchants Association Air Radio Ads Asking Collins and Snowe to Continue Support of Swipe Fee Reform
WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The National Retail Federation and the Maine Merchants Association today announced the launch of a radio advertising campaign urging Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins to continue their support of a new federal law that would save retailers and consumers more than $1 billion a month by lowering “swipe” fees banks charge to process debit card transactions.
“It’s your money the big banks are swiping. Call Senators Snowe and Collins … and tell them don’t delay swipe fee reform. Tell them we need swipe fee reform now.”
“Senators Snowe and Collins have been champions of Maine’s consumers and retail merchants,” an announcer says in the new radio ad. “That’s important because now there’s even a bigger fight in Washington over swipe fees, and Maine’s consumers and retail merchants need Senators Snowe and Collins’ help even more.”
“Americans pay the highest swipe fees in the world, three times more than any other country,” the ad says. “It’s your money the big banks are swiping. Call Senators Snowe and Collins … and tell them don’t delay swipe fee reform. Tell them we need swipe fee reform now.”
The one-minute ads are running on stations across Maine this week as part of NRF’s nationwide 60-day lobbying, grassroots and media campaign aimed at ensuring that swipe fee reform passed by Congress last year goes into effect as scheduled on July 21. A provision in the 2010 Wall Street reform bill will reduce the fees by an estimated 70 percent, saving about $14 billion a year that retailers plan to pass along to customers through discounts or other benefits, but the banking industry is spending millions of dollars to delay reform.
“Congress concluded last year that swipe fees have been driving up prices for consumers by far too much for far too long,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Now that Congress has done something about these fees, retailers are ready to pass the savings along to customers through lower prices and higher value. We want to make sure swipe fee reform takes effect as planned, and consumers get to enjoy those new benefits as soon as possible.”
“Senators Snowe and Collins supported Maine businesses and consumers on this issue last year and we hope they will help us fight big banks’ efforts to take reform away,” Maine Merchants Association Executive Director Curtis Picard said. “These fees are driving up prices for Maine citizens at a time when the economy is still recovering. Maine doesn’t want swipe fee reform delayed.”
Snowe and Collins, both Maine Republicans, each voted in favor of swipe fee reform when the Wall Street bill was considered in Congress last year.
Legislation introduced in March by Senator Jon Tester, D-Mont., would delay implementation of swipe fee reform by two years and require a new government study of the issue. Earlier this month, Tester said he would modify the bill to seek a 15-month delay, including a six-month study, six months for the Federal Reserve to draft new regulations replacing those proposed in December, and three months to prepare for implementation.
Banks’ call for further study comes despite the fact that Congress held seven hearings and ordered two Government Accountability Office studies before passing reform. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke has testified before Congress that he has all the information he needs to prepare final regulations on schedule with no need for delay.
Swipe fees, officially known as interchange fees, are a charge averaging 1-2 percent for debit cards and 2-3 percent for credit cards taken by banks each time a card is used to pay for a purchase. The fees have tripled over the past decade to about $50 billion a year, and drive up prices paid by consumers by an estimated $427 for the average household. Debit cards account for about $20 billion of the total.
Congress has yet to deal with credit card swipe fees but included swipe fee reform for debit cards in last year’s Wall Street bill. Regulations proposed by the Federal Reserve to implement the provision would lower debit card swipe fees from their current 1 to 2 percent of each transaction to a flat fee of no more than 12 cents per transaction for large banks that adhere to fee schedules set by the card companies. Banks that set their own rates would be free to charge any fee they believe the market would bear provided that they do so independently. Financial institutions with less than $10 billion in assets are exempt.
As the world's largest retail trade association and the voice of retail worldwide, NRF's global membership includes retailers of all sizes, formats and channels of distribution as well as chain restaurants and industry partners from the United States and more than 45 countries abroad. In the United States, NRF represents the breadth and diversity of an industry with more than 1.6 million American companies that employ nearly 25 million workers and generated 2010 sales of $2.4 trillion. www.nrf.com
Listen to Radio Ad at http://swipefees.nrf.com/ads