Restaurant Group Hails Swipe-Fee Reforms, One Year Later

Small business has gained from last year’s cap, the National Restaurant Association says, but it’s still pushing for lower fees.

Debit-card swipe-fee reforms that went into effect a year ago have largely benefited the nation’s small business economy, the National Restaurant Association said in a statement this week.

Reforming credit and debit swipe fees has been a top priority for the National Restaurant Association for over a decade.

“Reforming credit and debit swipe fees has been a top priority for the National Restaurant Association for over a decade,” said Scott DeFife, NRA executive vice president for policy and government affairs. “Since debit reforms went into effect one year ago, restaurants and their customers have been aided by a more transparent system in which card companies are prevented from arbitrarily increasing debit interchange rates.”

Reforms passed by Congress in October 2011 give the Federal Reserve the power to determine reasonable fees for debit card transactions. The NRA had been spearheading the effort to stop the rising interchange fees that it said were hurting small businesses.

The Fed capped swipe fees at 21 cents per transaction, down from the average of 44 cents that merchants had previously been paid, but it represented “a significant increase over the 12-cent swipe-fee cap first proposed by the Fed and based upon historical processing costs,” the NRA said.

The association has joined a lawsuit challenging that final ruling, arguing that the Fed “did not follow congressional intent to issue regulations that would ensure debit-card swipe fees for merchants are ‘reasonable and proportional’ to the cost of processing debit-card transactions.”

“While the Federal Reserve’s rule significantly brought down debit-swipe fees for many merchants, some restaurant owners have been forced to pay higher fees on smaller-ticket transactions,” said DeFife.

Oral arguments in the case were scheduled for today.

(Flickr photo by USDAGov)

Rob Stott

By Rob Stott

Rob Stott is a contributing editor for Associations Now. MORE

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