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ABA urges Congress to ignore calls for higher Durbin price controls

Frank Keating

The American Bankers Association, in response to a letter sent by the Retail Industry Leaders Association asking Congress to increase price controls, urged Congress to reject those calls to prevent damage to U.S. consumers.

RILA said in its letter that the $7.2 billion antitrust settlement reached with Visa and MasterCard in July was not enough.

“The proposed settlement, which was negotiated by Visa, MasterCard and lawyers purporting to represent the merchant community, is one-sided and preserves the very anticompetitive actions that were the genesis of the lawsuits,” the group said in the letter, according to eCommerceBytes. “Quite simply, the proposed settlement is a bad deal for merchants and their customers.”

The ABA and Frank Keating, its CEO, took a different tone.

“In truth, nothing is ever enough for some in the retail community and their desire to enjoy the benefits of our nation’s truly efficient payments system without ever having to pay for it,” the ABA said. “It is time for Congress to say enough is enough.”

Keating said that more than two years since the enactment of the Durbin Amendment, a provision that caps the interchange or “swipe” fee — the amount a bank can charge a merchant to process a debit transaction — big-box retailers have seen increased profits while smaller retailers have incurred higher costs.

“We do not believe it is in the interest of policymakers or the consumers they represent to repeat the mistakes of the past by expanding price controls to more aspects of our economy,” Keating said. “Policymakers from both ends of the political spectrum have expressed their support for the settlement as the appropriate means to resolve this dispute. We strongly agree.”

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