Warning: End of the Debit World Coming

by Patricia Hewitt 0

This is being written on May 21st,the day the world is to end. Perhaps someday the world will end,but apparently May 21, 2011 isn’t the day. But considering the ideaof the “end of the world as we know it” got us thinking about whatit’s been like to live with the end of world looming over us everyday.

Keeping our ear to the ground, it would seem that the efforts ofCongress to delay the Durbin Amendment have lost some momentum. Notto say one of the bills might pass, but Senator Tester’s recentnegotiation to shorten the delay timeframe might indicate that hissearch for 60 votes has been a struggle. In the meantime, theFederal Reserve continues to work on the final rules with no updateon the timing as of yet. However, rumors are swirling that finalrules may be coming out soon. We’ll see. At the same time however,let’s not forget that the TCF Financial lawsuit is still in playand could prove to be the wildcard in all of this.

In the meantime, debit issuers and industry stakeholders areholding their collective breath waiting for the date that the endof the debit world will take place. Should the final rules remainmaterially the same as the draft rules released in December, thegates will open for many issuers to begin implementing the programchanges they’ve got ready to go. There’s no question that consumerswill pay more for financial services as a result. Merchants arestarting to use the “d” word (as in discount) in their lobbyingefforts, but as the saying goes, “talking ain’t doing” and -aswe’ve written before -we believe that merchants dropped the ball intheir original messaging by not articulating clearly what thebenefit to consumers would be as a result of thislegislation.

We believe it’s time to give this market relief and set the datefor the end of the debit world or move on to the next bigthing.