NRF Says Overturning Dodd-Frank Would Reinstitute Price Fixing by Card Companies

June 7, 2016 WASHINGTON – The National Retail Federation today released the following statement after Rep. Jeb Hensarling, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, announced plans to repeal swipe-fee reform and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act.

“Today Jeb Hensarling announced that he wants to repeal an important competitive change in Dodd-Frank reform and return to the bad old days when card companies and banks freely picked the public’s pocket,” NRF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Mallory Duncan said.


“Protecting bank profit margins at the expense of competition is not sound public policy and it will harm merchants and consumers. The financial services industry attempted to get Congress to reject transparency and competition in 2010 and again in 2011. Both efforts failed. On behalf of retailers and their customers, NRF will fight for free and open markets.”

Swipe fees on debit and credit cards are many retailers’ second-largest operating cost, behind labor. These fees threaten small retailers with failure and keep merchants from hiring and expanding, slowing the entire economy. Exorbitant swipe fees also mean consumers pay higher prices. American merchants and consumers still pay the highest swipe fees in the world on debit and credit cards, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

Under the Dodd-Frank Consumer Protection and Wall Street Reform Act of 2010, the Federal Reserve was required to adopt regulations that would result in debit swipe fees that were “reasonable and proportional” to the actual cost of processing a transaction. Federal Reserve staff calculated the average cost at 4 cents per transaction and proposed a cap no higher than 12 cents. Nonetheless, after heavy lobbying from banks the Federal Reserve Board of Governors eventually settled on 21 cents plus 0.05 percent of the transaction for fraud recovery and allowed another 1 cent for fraud prevention in most cases. The cap, which applies only to financial institutions with $10 billion or more in assets, took effect in 2011 and totals about 24 cents on a typical debit card transaction.

NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and Internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is the nation’s largest private sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs – 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.6 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy. NRF’s This is Retail campaign highlights the industry’s opportunities for life-long careers, how retailers strengthen communities, and the critical role that retail plays in driving innovation.