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ICBA Opposes Misguided Interchange Legislation

Washington, D.C. (June 4, 2009)—Camden R. Fine, president and CEO of the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA), issued the following statement regarding interchange legislation (H.R. 2695) introduced today by Congressman John Conyers (D-MI).

“ICBA strongly opposes the Credit Card Fair Fee Act interchange legislation introduced today by Reps. John Conyers (D-MI) and Bill Shuster (R-PA). This legislation is an attempt by giant retailers to make consumers pay for one of their business expenses–-the cost of accepting credit and debit cards. Merchants simply do not want to pay their fair share to accept debit and credit cards, and they want consumers to foot the bill.

“Merchants receive enormous benefits when their customers use credit and debit cards, not the least of which is a safe, secure and easy transaction. The current interchange system gives consumers a choice in card providers by allowing fair and equitable access for banks of all sizes, including our nation’s more than 8,000 community banks who are able offer debit and credit products to their customers at competitive rates and fees. If passed, this legislation would allow merchants to “negotiate” in anticompetitive and collusive ways to shift their costs to customers.

“Community banks offer credit and debit cards with fair terms as a means of providing valuable services to their customers. This legislation would hinder their ability to do so, leading to less competition in the credit and debit card markets, which would ultimately disadvantage consumers through higher costs and less choice. The bottom line is that merchants want to pay less for the benefits they receive from payment cards. That means community banks and their customers will pay more to provide merchants with those benefits. Haven’t we had enough of subsidizing large institutions? Retailers like Wal-Mart should not be given an even greater ability to force local Main Street institutions out of the market.

“ICBA strongly urges the House Judiciary Committee and the House leadership to take these highly burdensome ramifications into consideration and abandon this misguided legislation."

For more information about ICBA, visit www.icba.org.