In a recent op-ed on debit card reform by the founder of Evolution Finance, Odysseas Papadimitriou writes that Congress needs "to finish the job" of debit and credit card reform. I couldn't agree more.
The reforms and savings realized from the passage of the Durbin Amendment have made debit card transactions more transparent, increased marketplace competitiveness, reduced prices, improved services and saved jobs. Now Congress needs to focus on credit card reform.
Here's why: First, hidden swipe fees are costing average consumers hundreds of dollars a year – even if they pay in cash. The U.S. has the highest credit card swipe fees in the world. In fact, they are seven to eight times higher than in Europe. They have tripled since 2004 despite improvements in technology that should be driving costs down.
Second, price fixing is the only to describe how swipe fees are set. Visa and MasterCard control 80% of the credit card market, allowing them to dictate the amount of swipe fees that their bank members charge for each purchase.
Third, merchants can't negotiate swipe fees. In fact, merchants don't know what fee they are being charged when customers swipe because the rate varies card by card. Visa has over 70 different card types; MasterCard has over 240.
The false and inflated fears of doom and gloom pushed by the banks and credit card companies during the debate on debit card reform have been proven wrong. Consumers are benefitting from debit card reform. They will benefit even more from credit card reform. It is way past due.
Lyle Beckwith is senior vice president of government relations with the National Association of Convenience Stores.