Running a small business in Michigan isn’t easy. That’s why I am a strong supporter of reforming debit card swipe fees – the fees banks charge small businesses for allowing customers to use the cards at their establishments. Every dollar businesses spend on these interchange fees is a dollar not spent hiring workers or providing savings to customers.
Debit card fees have increased by more than 300 percent since 2001, exceeding health care and energy cost increases. People don’t realize it but even customers who choose to pay cash are affected by swipe fees because they are paying inflated prices that reflect this hidden cost.
Last year, U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois introduced an amendment to the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to reform these fees. By a bipartisan vote of 64-33, the U.S. Senate agreed to include the amendment as part of a comprehensive financial reform package and the president signed it into law. The cap on fees is set to take effect July 21.
Although swipe fee reform is extremely popular with consumers and people like me, the credit card companies and big banks are trying to derail reform.
Sen. Jon Tester of Montana has introduced the Debit Interchange Fee Study Act, which would kill reform by delaying implementation of the swipe fee cap for two years and calling for yet another study. Michigan members of Congress should not bend to this pressure from big banks!
As a business owner, I support the need for credit card companies and banks to make a profit. I get that. Just the same, small business people are not asking to eliminate swipe fees – we are simply looking for our elected officials to maintain the commonsense reforms that were passed in 2010. When the reform takes effect, swipe fees are expected to be cut by 73 percent. That makes it easier for small businesses to lower costs and create a more consumer friendly environment.
Don’t let the banks and credit card companies derail reform. Let’s not make things tougher than for small business than they already are in this economy.