Debit Card Interchange Fee Caps Delayed


Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has received more than 11,000 letters commenting on the Federal Reserve Board’s December 2010 proposal to limit interchange fees on debit cards to 12 cents, according to a March 30 report from American Banker.

“Detailed and extensive” comments

Bernanke said many of the letters were “quite detailed and extensive” and justified the Fed taking additional time to review the information and assess the full effects of the proposed limits on U.S. consumers and financial institutions.

As a result, Bernanke informed House Financial Services Committee Chairman Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Alabama) that the Fed would be unable to issue final interchange fee rules by April 21 as required by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

Changes for the consumer

Consumers could feel the effect of the new regulations in a number of ways. Banks claim that they stand to lose billions of dollars in revenue if the proposed limits are put into effect without regard to the level of service and security the banks are expected to provide. To make up the shortfall, banks will likely find ways to pass on unrecouped costs to merchants and ultimately to consumers.

Other changes to the consumer experience are also possible. One potential change, as reported earlier this month by CNNMoney, is a $50 spending limit on debit card transactions. This would limit banks’ exposure to liability in case of fraud.

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