A coalition of public interest groups and think tanks generally regarded as being on the conservative end of the political spectrum has come out with a statement urging Congress to reject the so-called Durbin Amendment that would regulate debit card interchange. The amendment's chief sponsor is Senator Richard Durbin (D-Ill.)
The group, including organizations like the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Americans for Tax Reform, the Club for Growth, Eagle Forum, and state Tea Party groups sent legislators a letter stressing that if the government puts price controls on interchange fees, "consumers will lose out, as retailer costs to process debit and credit cards will be shifted to the wallet of the average American cardholder."
The letter cites the experience of Australia, where consumers paid higher annual fees and lost rewards, such as airline miles, when the government pushed through caps on retailer fees. Moreover, there is no evidence that these costs to Australian consumers were offset in the form of lower retail prices.
Noting the opposition of community banks and credit unions, the letter points out that,
"America is unique in that a small bank or credit union from a small state can issue a credit card that can be used anywhere in the world." But this uniquely American payment card system would be threatened under the Durbin amendment, because "government controls of the market rates of credit and debit card networks will adversely affect all financial institutions that issue these cards, regardless of whether the final bill contains exemptions on paper for the size of institutions."