It's an arcane subject that is of concern mainly to financial institutions and retailers and one that rarely generates headlines. Last year, however, everything changed.

While credit unions and banks were fending off parts of the financial overhaul bill that they felt would add to their regulatory burden, they saw the issue of debit interchange fees thrust into the spotlight.

On May 13, 2010, Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) was able to persuade his colleagues in that chamber to pass by a vote of 64-33 an amendment that mandated the Federal Reserve establish interchange fee standards and a fee cap. Though there had been hearings on interchange fees, there wasn't one specifically on the Durbin amendment.

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