Inside Financial Services

The Durbin Amendment–One Year Later

It's plain old price-fixing--and consumers haven't benefited a bit

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the implementation of one of the most misguided pieces of banking legislation to come out of Washington in decades: the Durbin amendment. As Richard Hunt, head of the Consumer Bankers Association, points out below, the Durbin amendment is an example of old-fashioned price-fixing that, in this case, facilitates a transfer of wealth from an interest group that happens to be out of favor, the banks, to one that Sen. Durbin seems to approve of: the big-box retailers. And the supposed benefit to consumers that the amendment was supposed to provide? It has yet to materialize-as the CBA and other banking organizations predicted. As Hunt points out, the Durbin amendment hasn’t helped consumers a bit:

Richard Hunt: Durbin Amendment Anniversary

This week, as I waited to board my flight to Bloomington, I wondered about how ticket prices would be affected if Senator Durbin mandated price controls in the airline industry as he has with banks. Today, when you fly Durbin’s Chicago-based United Airlines, you can expect to pay fees to go to the front of the line, use wifi, watch TV, have a snack, check an extra bag, get an aisle seat or change your flight. The airline sets the fees. Consumers choose to pay for the services they value. That’s the beauty of it. The market – the consumer – decides.

Monday marks the one year anniversary of the Durbin Amendment, which forced banks to take unprecedented measures to offset losses. In the past year, consumers have been the big losers. Only big box retailers have benefited.

The retail industry has a long history of opposing government intervention, including health care, minimum wage increases and most recently the New York prohibition on large sugary drinks. Lately, however, they have changed their tune to benefit their industry – suing the Fed and objecting to the interchange settlement which was eight years in the making. Instead of accepting the benefits of the $6 billion settlement and the $6.6 billion windfall from the Durbin Amendment, retailers want even more.

As we have seen with banking, price fixing has consequences. In fact, the Durbin Amendment backfired on 7-11 as they now pay more on the majority of their transactions than they did pre-Durbin. This legislation was a political handout to big-box retailers, who now are scrambling to make excuses for why they couldn’t pass savings along to customers.

Remember the promises the retailers made to American consumers and Congress? A year later, consumers are still waiting to see those savings.

There is only one thing left to do: repeal price controls. Repeal Durbin.

These are the must-read articles of the week on the one year anniversary of the Durbin Amendment and the interchange settlement:

Where’s My Debit Discount? The Durbin Effect – One Year Later
Bloomberg: A Year After Durbin, Swipe Fee Battles Still Rage
Reuters: Restaurants oppose $7.2 billion credit-card fee settlement
American Banker: Card Issuers Live on Swipe Fees as Loans Stagnate
ABC News: Swipe Card Reform: Are Consumers Saving Money?

11 Responses to “The Durbin Amendment–One Year Later”

  1. sgr

    Honestly, about the only way to get bank-hating far left folks to support repealing Durbin is to tell them that it greatly benefits Walmart. Walmart is about the only thing they hate more than banks.
    So… maybe a strategy change there. Just spitballing.

  2. PMM

    Tom, As we all know, DIck Durbin has an I.Q. that would freeze water. I can hardly wait to hear
    his spin on this one. Durbin is the worst of the worst. PMM

  3. D80

    If you use a credit card to fill up your car with gas the benefits go to the big oil companies. How ironic.

  4. msc

    right on – thanks. I wish you had a social media share button or two on your articles so we could easily help spread the word… The “banks are evil, all punishment and regulation is warranted as payback for banks singlehandedly runining the economy” mantra is helping to ruin the economy.

  5. BarryDemo

    Great article, one of the reasons I moved from Illinois. The Crazies still in charge in Illinois.

  6. Len

    Here in the State of Washington, ARCO, a unit of BP, charges 10 cents less a gallon for gas, but only if you use a major bank debit card thanks to the Durbin Amendment. You can’t even use a community bank’s debit card, however, because they still get the higher swipe fee.

  7. Patrick J.

    If you listen closely to anything Durban says, you can hear the Ocean.

  8. rivvir

    Ok, but why is it i see only attacks on dumb left wingers from you, or did i miss something? Don’t you think the right wing has its dumb moments? As for, “The “banks are evil, all punishment and regulation is warranted as payback for banks singlehandedly runining the economy” mantra is helping to ruin the economy.” Clue this one in. The banks already ruined the economy. We’re now in the process of trying to rebuild it, and no one has a clue on how to do that. Including TB.

  9. Ken Greenberg

    No surprise. As for those who think the banks ruined the economy and dispute Tom’s points, remember it all started in DC and accelerated over the years. FNMA, Freddie, a push for more people in houses (they couldn’t afford). They even pushed banks to hold FNMA stock. At some point, you go along for the ride.

  10. Joe Merchant

    Really? Repeal Durbin…How about Repealing Price fixing. Banks need to take control of the payment industry. Hiding behind Visa and MasterCard is only forcing the Governments hand.

Comments are closed.