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ABA Continues Pushback on Debit Fee Proposal


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Feb 16, 2024
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The American Bankers Association (ABA) continues to kick back against the Federal Reserve’s proposed rules that would lower the cap on debit interchange fees. The ABA has now asked the Fed to extend the public comment period for its notice of proposed rulemaking. Nine financial sector associations also signed the joint letter making the request.

The current deadline for public comments on the proposed rule is February 12, 2024. In their letter, the associations asked that the deadline be pushed back at least 90 days given the significant changes the Fed will potentially pursue.

In October, the Fed proposed revising Regulation II to lower the cap from its current rate of 21 cents and .05% of the transaction, plus a one-cent fraud adjustment, to 14.4 cents and .04% per transaction and a 1.3 cent fraud prevention adjustment. The rule would take effect June 30, 2025, then be revisited every two years.

The benefits and potential drawbacks are not immediately clear. “Issuers say the interchange fees help keep debit card transactions safe from fraud,” Elisa Tavilla, Director of Debit Payments at Javelin Strategy & Research, wrote in an October article for PaymentsJournal. “However, changes could lead to less fraud prevention, decreased access to credit, and other negative consequences.”

The ABA’s Stance​

In the group’s initial statement, ABA President and CEO Rob Nichols said the Fed was using flawed data and an incomplete process. The Fed’s plan “has the potential to make checking accounts, debit cards and a range of financial products more expensive for American consumers, while delivering an unprecedented gift to big-box retailers that have shown no inclination to pass any savings along to customers,” Nichols said. “Far from holding community banks harmless as the Fed claims, smaller institutions will be sharply impacted by this change, as revenue they use to pay for a range of financial products and services is reduced.”

The latest letter noted that given the number of proposed banking regulations currently under consideration, the ABA needed more time to analyze the potential cumulative effects on consumers and the financial sector. “The data presented to support the board’s proposal is complex, dated and incomplete,” the letter said, “requiring the private sector to invest significant time to digest and supplement it.” The Federal Reserve has yet to respond.

The post ABA Continues Pushback on Debit Fee Proposal appeared first on PaymentsJournal.
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