WASHINGTON — The House Judiciary Committee's Antitrust TaskForce's first foray into the topic of credit card interchange onJuly 19 appeared to produce more questions from lawmakers thananswers as witnesses on the two sides of the issue offeredconflicting versions of credit card reality.

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“We have heard a great deal of conflicting testimony about avery complicated topic,” said Task Force Chairman John Conyers,(D-Mich.) “and now we are going to have to sort through it, butthat is what we are here for.”

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Witnesses representing retailers, consumers groups, bankers andthe perspective of the card brands all offered different takes onsuch central elements as whether or not there is genuinecompetition in credit card interchange, whether or not retailersare allowed to discuss the their agreements with the card brands,whether or not U.S. merchants pay the highest interchange in theworld and what they get for that fee.

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Particularly, lawmakers expressed frustration and doubt aboutwhether, in the end, legislation would help or hinder the market incard interchange.

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