Thursday, June 9, 2011

Banking: Senate bill reins in debit card 'swipe fees' -

Banking: Senate bill reins in debit card 'swipe fees' -

Worst hit are the poorest Americans, who don't carry credit or debit cards and must pay cash. The "unbanked" don't have the convenience of using debit cards, yet they end up subsidizing their use by the better-off. Latinos are disproportionately unbanked and are accordingly hit hardest, as a 2009 study by the organization I chair determined.

Under the reform, starting July 21, rather than a percentage charge, swipe fees paid to the biggest banks will be set at a flat 12 cents per transaction. This is a huge reduction: The average swipe fee for debit card transactions in 2009 was 44 cents. Given that the Federal Reserve has determined average processing costs are really around 4 cents per transaction, a 12-cent fee seems more than reasonable.

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