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Setting the Record Straight: New Analysis Demonstrates the Durbin Amendment Has Not Led to Consumer Savings or Employment Gains, Contrary to Retailer Claims
The Electronic Payments Coalition (EPC) released a new analysis today that directly dispels inaccurate claims in a report frequently cited by merchant and retailer groups on the effects of the Durbin Amendment.
Retailer claims that the Durbin Amendment has benefited consumers and supported employment gains are based on a flawed study that relies on faulty assumptions. Independent data from the Federal Reserve verifies that merchants are the sole beneficiaries of interchange price caps, at the expense of both consumers and the financial industry.
The Durbin Amendment, a.k.a. “merchant markup,” allows big box retailers to pocket $8 billion dollars a year from customers’ purchases. That’s $32 billion since Congress passed this law and retail groups are looking to increase their merchant markup even more.
Additionally, big box retailers are not held to any federal standards to protect their customers, yet 90% of consumers agree they should be held to similar standards as banks and financial institutions when it comes to keeping customer data secure and private. The Data Security Act of 2015 would help protect consumers but retailers are fighting the bill to increase their bottom line. It’s time to put consumers first.
On May 10, 2016, EPC sent a letter to House leadership explaining why H.R. 2205 is needed to better protect consumer information. This letter is a follow-up to an earlier one from October.
EPC’s latest resource explains how EMV chip cards can help defend against hackers.
A statement from Molly Wilkinson, executive director of the Electronic Payments Coalition (EPC) in support of the Data Security Act of 2015, H.R. 2205:
Despite recent claims from representatives of the retail industry, security measures to protect sensitive customer information are needed across industries that handle consumers’ personal and financial information. Retailers are not currently held to any Federal security standards, yet a recent Morning Consult poll found 90 percent of consumers agree stores and retailers should be held to similar standards as banks and financial institutions to keep data secure and private.
Banks and financial institutions go above and beyond the requirements of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) to safeguard their customers’ information and the same effort should be required of others that handle sensitive customer data, such as credit and debit cards. There are numerous safeguards implemented by financial institutions that retailers currently do not abide by, such as: sensitive information protections, privacy protection and notification, security plans and safeguard measures, and pretexting protections
In Washington, sometimes the facts get in the way of a good story when it comes to advocating for changes to public policy. Eventually, the facts have the pesky ability to expose the cold hard truth of a well-spun fairy tale. This is what happened when price controls were enacted on debit card transactions and consumers suffered as a result.
An amendment authored by Senator Durbin was attached to Dodd-Frank and passed in the dead of night with little scrutiny or debate. The provision, which dictates price controls on debit card transactions, was hailed as a consumer benefit because advocates said that the money it generated would go directly back into the pockets of hardworking Americans.
While few senators attended the Senate Banking Committee’s hearing on the effects of consumer finance regulations, Senate Democrats blasted Senate Republicans for trying to kneecap the CFPB and questioned one witness’ judgement about the agency at Tuesday’s event.
During his opening statement, ranking member Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), chided the committee’s Republicans for having forgotten the recent financial crisis and the reasons why the CFPB was developed. He told committee members to resist the collective amnesia in the hearing room and in Congress.
A statement from Molly Wilkinson, executive director of the Electronic Payments Coalition (EPC) praising testimony from Professor Todd Zywicki at the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, & Urban Affairs hearing today:
Price controls on debit card transactions, which were enacted through the Durbin Amendment, have created a hand out for retailers that so far has reached $36 billion and continues to rise each year.
EPC To Fed Chair: Durbin Amendment Rewards Retailers $36 Billion in Additional Profits, But Provides No Relief to Consumers
Electronic Payments Coalition Executive Director Molly Wilkinson today wrote Fed Chair Janet Yellen to express concerns regarding the detrimental effect the Durbin amendment is having on consumers.
In the letter, which was submitted pursuant to the regulatory review being conducted under the Economic Growth and Regulatory Paperwork Reduction Act of 1996 (EGRPRA), Wilkinson details how the Durbin amendment never fulfilled its promise of lowering costs to consumers at checkout, but has instead allowed retailers to pocket approximately an additional $36 billion in profit.
Citing a recent August 2015 Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond study, Wilkinson notes that few merchants are found to reduce prices or debit restrictions as debit costs decrease. In another survey 92% of the nearly 2000 consumers questioned reported that prices rose or stayed the same over the previous year.
“…[this] study confirms what common sense and economic theory tell us – that is, retailers never had any intention or economic incentive to pass their windfall on to consumers, Wilkinson writes. “None of this should be any surprise, and consumers should not hold their breath for retailers to pass their Durbin windfall onto consumers through lower prices.”
Further, Wilkinson’s letter explains how low income Americans have been disproportionately and adversely impacted as the Durbin Amendment has led to a transfer of $1 to $3 billion annually from low-income households to large merchants and their shareholders.
“Regulators and policy makers should consider the economic consequences for the most vulnerable when promulgating new regulations and recognize that the Durbin Amendment, rather than helping with this worthwhile goal, merely aided retailers to pocket $36 billion dollars to date”
Wilkinson’s full letter to Yellen can be found here.
Contact: Kasia Mulligan
Phone: (202) 627-0544
About the Electronic Payments Coalition
The Electronic Payments Coalition (EPC) is a coalition of payments industry stakeholders, such as credit unions, community banks, trade associations, payment card networks and banks that speaks on behalf of the payments industry to protect the value, innovation, convenience, security and competition that exists in the modern electronic payments system. The EPC educates policymakers, consumers and the media on the system’s role in economic growth and the importance of consumer choice, security, innovation and stability for the continued growth of global commerce.