Payments News

Visa, Mastercard Debit Fees Are Hurting Retailers, Sen. Richard Durbin Says

Jul 27, 2020

Senator alleges big networks and issuers are making it hard for merchants to use cheaper card networks.

Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin is asking the Federal Reserve to probe allegedly anticompetitive practices that are forcing merchants to pay excessive debit-card fees levied during the coronavirus crisis by large networks like Visa Inc. and Mastercard Inc. MA -0.96%

In a letter to Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, Mr. Durbin said practices by the large card networks and debit-card issuers are diminishing competition in the online payments marketplace and costing merchants potentially billions of dollars. The letter, which Mr. Durbin’s office sent late Friday, asks the Fed to determine whether the major card networks and debit-card issuers have a shared incentive to limit the transactions processed by lesser-known debit-card networks. The Wall Street Journal reviewed a copy of the letter.

The Illinois senator is the namesake of the Durbin amendment, a part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act that is best known for capping the swipe fees that merchants pay large banks when customers shop with debit cards. But it also requires that merchants have the ability to choose from at least two unaffiliated debit-card networks to route transactions. Some debit-card issuers appear to be violating that part, Mr. Durbin wrote. He didn’t name any specific banks or other card issuers.

By AnnaMaria Andriotis and Orla McCaffrey

Click to read full article. (WSJ Subscription required)