The Federal Reserve Board has released results from its first annual study of debit card fees.
It shows that the so-called Durbin amendment succeeded in reducing the fee debit card issues can charge merchants each time a customer uses the card. The data shows the average charge dropped to 24 cents from 43 cents. That information is useful as far as it goes. The real question is, where did the savings go?
Government price fixing is generally a bad idea; the only way advocates of the price cap on interchange fees succeeded was arguing that it would mean savings to consumers. So let’s see the savings. We know someone is savings 19 cents per transaction, but where is that money going? I don’t know any consumers who feel they are getting a better deal now.
I think we all know the merchants are getting that money, particularly the Walmarts and Home Depots of the world. I suspect additional research will prove this point.
The Durbin amendment was a bad idea from the start. Can anyone give me a good reason why government should fix prices so big box retailers can make more money? Down the line as the true impact of the Durbin amendment becomes obvious, I think the chances improve that the amendment will be rescinded.