NEW YORK - In a sharply worded Fox News op-ed rebuttal piece appearing yesterday, Doug Kantor, general counsel of the Merchants Payments Coalition, responded to comments made by the banks regarding a new NACS study on hidden bank fees at the pump.
"It€™s remarkable how the banking industry and its apologists run from competitive markets while pretending to want them."
Kantor said the current swipe fee process has banks charging the same fee schedules dictated by Visa and MasterCard, a practice that "kills competition, the central tenet of capitalism."
He praised the Durbin Amendment, legislation that "incentivize[s] price competition where it does not exist." However, he said that law€™s reforms have fallen short, as the Federal Reserve did not adequately limit "the old centralized price-fixing more, as the law envisioned." (For more read "Courting the Fed Over Swipe Fees" from the January NACS Magazine.)
Explaining that retail "is one of the most price-competitive parts of the U.S. economy," Kantor said merchants are indeed aggressively reducing prices and passing along swipe fee savings, contrary to what banks have alleged.
"Target, Kohl€™s and JC Penny, for example, all cut prices during the holidays, according to The New York Times," Kantor wrote. "Merchants were 'aggressively discounting€™ during that period according to Bloomberg. And Best Buy said its earnings fell late last year due to discounting."
"Merchants like a truly free market," Kantor concluded. "Now, with debit-card reform, they€™re a little closer."