Merchant Coalition Funds Durbin TV Ads

by Mercator Advisory Group 0

Rumors are flying that this is the week Senator Tester will present his Durbin delay bill for a vote on the Senate floor. In the meantime, merchant lobbying efforts are moving from the radio airwaves to a TV near you. Here’s a link to the merchant advertisement currently running, http://bit.ly/iQcXNC.

“The ads feature small-business owners from around the country speaking about the impact of interchange fees, which are charged by banks on every credit- and debit-card transaction. Congress has suggested delaying the proposed limitations on debit-card fees, set to go into effect July 21. A bipartisan proposal in the Senate calling for a 15-month delay could be voted on as early as this week.”

In many ways, the face of the debate is a small one – literally – in that each side argues that it’s the small banks/credit unions and the small merchants who would be impacted the most from the legislation. Here’s a quote from this recent article, http://bit.ly/jKWH5X, which appeared in a Maine newspaper,

“Maine small business owners are grateful to Senators Collins and Snowe for their continued support for small businesses and for their support on this important issue,” said Maine Merchants Association Executive Director Curtis Picard, in a release announcing the ads. “Repealing these reforms now, just weeks before they’re scheduled to take effect, would be devastating to thousands of small businesses and consumers here in Maine who are counting on the relief. Every additional dollar that is swiped from our small businesses is a dollar that can’t be spent creating jobs or saving customers money.”

One has to wonder just how grateful these small business owners will be if the final rules go into effect and contain no requirement for acquirers or processors to pass interchange savings onto small businesses that pay bundled discount rates (where the interchange fee is not explicitly passed through). Small banks and credit unions are well aware of the dangers they face if the Durbin Amendment is not delayed and have organized to get the word out. The devil’s in the details – and the vote.

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