WASHINGTON - During the NACS Day on the Hill Congressional Fly-In in April, NACS retail members and state association executives met with members of Congress and delivered a strong message: Don€™t delay the swipe fee reforms that were signed into law last year. The message, for the most part, was heard loud and clear.
During Wednesday€™s debate of the now-defunct Tester-Corker amendment, Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), champion of debit card swipe fee reform, spoke in support of small businesses and convenience retailers, including a retailer he met with during the Congressional Fly-In:
"Mr. President, if my colleagues are interested in small-town America, they should be interested in the businesses that operate in small-town America, and they are begging us to vote no on the Tester-Corker amendment.
"I happen to live in a town of 120,000 people.
"It is a little bit larger than my colleague's hometown in Montana, but I can tell you what the businesses there are saying. I can tell you what [NACS Board member] Wendy Chronister is saying, who owns the Qik-n-EZ gas stations. She is saying to me: 'Give me a break. They are hitting us so hard with these debit interchange fees.€™
"We have letters put in the Record from military base exchanges which say this is the fastest growing, uncontrollable cost they are facing. This is a problem which the credit card companies and the banks have wanted to ignore and now this amendment wants to delay for 6 months, a year, or longer.
'In terms of trusting the regulators, I am afraid the banking interests that wrote this amendment did not trust them to even issue the rule. You had to call this debate before they issued the rule. You do not know what the number is going to be on the interchange fee, but you had to stop them in their tracks.
'If you will go look in the corridors and rooms around Capitol Hill, you will not find a lot of small town bankers.
'You will find the biggest banks in America waiting in the wings, praying, putting in a billion dollars' worth of prayers that this amendment is going to pass.
"I do not question the intentions or motives of Senators Tester or Corker. I never will. But I can tell you, the effect of this amendment is going to be giving to those big banks and those credit card companies a windfall of profit they do not deserve."