Saying that the House didn't have the chance to fully consider the implications of debit interchange caps, House Financial Services Committee member Kenny Marchant (R-Texas) questioned Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke about the possibility of delaying the regulations.
In a letter, Marchant asked Bernanke if the Fed has the authority to delay implementing a final rule and whether it has enough time to consider all the factors regarding interchange fees, including the impact on small financial institutions. He also asked how the Fed will enforce the exemption for institutions with less than $10 billion in assets.
Marchant also asked if there is a role for banking regulators--such as the NCUA--in reviewing debit card revenue and consumer checking accounts.
In his comments before posing the questions, Marchant said he hopes the debit interchange fee cap does not cause a "situation where consumers are pushed out of their checking accounts because they cannot afford the access or maintenance fees and, in turn, rely primarily on payday lenders and check cashing services.''
Marchant tied his questions to the Feb. 17 hearing on interchange by the House Financial Services Committee's Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit Subcommittee.
The Fed's proposed rule would cap card interchange at no more than 12 cents per transaction. According to the proposed rule, the allowable costs for interchange would be limited to no more than the issuer's allowable costs divided by the number of electronic debit transactions on which the issuer received or charged an interchange transaction fee in the calendar year. Or the issuer could receive debit interchange capped at 12 cents per transaction.
Comments on the Fed's proposed rule are due Feb. 22 and the rule must be approved by April 21 and in effect by July 21.