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ICBA Statement on Settlement Allowing Retailer Checkout Fees

Washington, D.C. (July 16, 2012)—The Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) released this statement following Friday’s settlement between merchants and MasterCard, Visa and several large credit card issuers, which will allow merchants to begin imposing a surcharge, or “retailer  checkout fee,” each time a customer chooses to pay with a credit card.
“This settlement should put an end to the dispute between merchants and the payment card industry over who pays for the cost of a credit card transaction.  The parties have come together to resolve this issue in the courts. Once again, however, the clear losers in this latest round of the battles over merchant interchange fees are consumers, as merchants can now enjoy the benefits of accepting credit card payments while also charging consumers a retailer checkout fee.

“First it was the ill-conceived price controls of the Durbin Amendment that transferred billions of dollars to merchants while saving consumers nothing, and now merchants can charge consumers a fee for paying with credit cards.  The payment card industry evolved as a marketplace where megabanks and community banks, along with big-box retailers and small businesses, each paid their fair share to maintain a convenient, secure and appealing means of payment for consumers.  This settlement marks the end of that balanced system and replaces it with one where consumers foot much of the bill.

“While the community banking industry was not party to this litigation, dramatic changes such as this and the Durbin Amendment will over time have a negative impact on Main Street consumers and the community banks that serve them. The sad fact is that some retailers will likely be back at the trough asking Congress for even more bad policy and market manipulation in order to increase their profits at the expense of consumers.  With the credit card settlement in place and evidence that consumers aren’t experiencing benefits from debit card interchange price fixing, we believe Congress should reject those efforts.”

For more information, visit www.icba.org.