Senate passes financial reforms, draws praise from retail industry

ARLINGTON, Va. The Food Marketing Institute on Thursday praised the Senate for approving the Conference Report to H.R. 4173, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which will require the Federal Reserve to set “reasonable and proportional” interchange fees on debit card transactions.

President Obama is expected to sign the bill, the association reported.

“This is a long-fought victory for supermarkets and their customers across the country,” stated Leslie Sarasin, FMI president and CEO. “These fees represent the only completely uncontrollable cost for retailers. Supermarkets and their customers will see the benefits of a system of reasonable and proportional costs in a competitive and transparent marketplace.”

FMI expressed gratitude to the members of Congress who sponsored interchange fee legislation and advanced this measure, including the amendment’s author, Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., who also introduced the Credit Card Fair Fee Act of 2009 (S. 1212), which empowers retailers to negotiate these and related fees with credit card companies and banks, and House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., and Reps. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., and Peter Welch, D-Vt., who introduced the companion legislation in the House as well as the Credit Card Interchange Fees Act.

According to FMI, consumers have been paying more than $50 billion a year in hidden interchange fees to credit card companies and banks. Interchange fees are collected by banks and credit card companies each time a consumer uses a credit or debit card to make a purchase. Since these fees are hidden, consumers are unaware of the costs associated with their cards, FMI added.

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