Small Business Owners, Rep. Welch to Congress: Pass Commonsense Swipe Fee Reform NOW!

Jun 17, 2010, 15:08 ET from Reform Swipe Fees NOW!

Americans are set to pay more than $50 billion in swipe fees this year – most of which will just add to the profits of big banks and credit card companies

WASHINGTON, June 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In an effort to ensure swipe fee reform passes Congress and is signed into law, more than 100 small business owners from across the country descended upon Washington, D.C. today where participants joined Congressman Peter Welch (VT-AL) for a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol to urge Members of Congress to support the Durbin-Welch amendment – then marched to Capitol Hill to conduct face-to-face meetings.  A bipartisan majority in the Senate passed an amendment last month, offered by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), to rein in excessive debit card fees.  Now the measure needs final Congressional approval.

(Photo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20100617/DC22901)

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20100617/DC22901)

"Small business owners in Vermont and around the country are suffering from out-of-control swipe fees charged by big banks and credit card companies," Congressman Welch said. "Congress must stand up to the special interests swarming the Hill this week to kill the Durbin amendment. We must do the right thing by fighting for small businesses and the American consumer."

Swipe fees are the average 2% of the total transaction cost that credit card companies and their member banks collect from U.S. retailers, local governments, charities, universities, and more, every time they accept a credit or debit card as a form of payment.  The U.S. currently pays the highest swipe fees in the world – with rates that have tripled in less than a decade.  Reform would help small businesses to grow, offer better pay to their employees, and pass savings on to their customers. 

"I have owned my small business for almost four decades. Year after year, I have seen the effect of these fees firsthand. Last year Visa and MasterCard made more off of my store than I did. And I never once saw anyone from Visa or MasterCard mopping the floor, washing the windows, or taking inventory.  No – they just want to take money from my cash register," said National spokesman for Reform Swipe Fees NOW! and 7-Eleven franchise owner, Dennis Lane.  "The facts are on our side against the massive lobbying campaigns by Visa and MasterCard.  All Congress needs to do now is include the provision as part of financial reform, and small businesses and consumers will see relief.

"The small-business members of NSBA are proponents of free enterprise, and the current interchange system defies the principles of a competitive market.  For instance, it currently is 43 times more expensive for a small business to process a $100 debit-card transaction than a traditional paper check," said Kyle Kempf of the National Small Business Association.  "The small-business members of the National Small Business Association urge Congress to retain the Durbin Amendment, in its entirety, in its financial regulatory reform package."

The Durbin amendment would ensure these fees are "reasonable and proportional" to the cost of processing the transaction. At the same time, the Durbin amendment protects more than 99 percent of credit unions and small banks across the country.

Today's press conference came just a day after Senator Durbin released a U.S. Treasury report indicating that American taxpayers pay more than $116 million a year, or more than $320,000 a day,  in swipe fees for government credit and debit card purchases.

To hear Congressman Welch's press conference remarks, click here.

About Reform Swipe Fees NOW!:  Reform Swipe Fees NOW! is a project by the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA).  The project unites U.S. business owners, small and large, in a campaign for fair credit card swipe fees.

SOURCE Reform Swipe Fees NOW!