June 16, 2016

Berger, others call for Durbin amendment repeal

NAFCU President and CEO Dan Berger called for the repeal of the Durbin amendment on debit interchange, in an editorial in The Hill Thursday which he co-authored with the heads of CUNA, the Consumer Bankers Association and the Independent Community Bankers Association.

Berger and the others urged support of legislation from Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas, that would repeal the amendment, and they recognized House Financial Services Subcommittee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, for his Dodd-Frank alternative plan that would also repeal the price controls.

"A recent study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond surveyed a diverse set of merchants and found that more than three-fourths in the sample did not change their prices after the Durbin Amendment was implemented," Berger and the others wrote. "And, surprisingly, the study also found that one in four merchants actually increased prices since the Durbin Amendment took effect.

"Other studies confirm customers are being short-changed at the register," they continued. "The fourth annual survey of nearly 2,000 consumers by consumer research firm Phoenix Marketing International found the vast majority of shoppers have not experienced a price drop at the point of sale. In fact, in each of the 15 categories measured, at least 92 percent of shoppers reported that prices rose or stayed the same over the previous year."

The Durbin amendment, passed as part of the Dodd-Frank Act, required the Federal Reserve to cap debit interchange fees charged by financial institutions with $10 billion or more in assets. The real effect has been to reduce interchange fees across the board, but the price caps, which reduced costs for retailers, have not resulted in the promised savings for consumers at the check-out line.

Neugebauer introduced his bill, H.R. 5465, last week. Hensarling continues to reveal details about his Dodd-Frank alternative, which also includes other measures for credit union relief.