Economic Analysis of the Effects of the Federal Reserve Board’s Proposed Debit Card Interchange Fee Regulations on Consumers and Small Businesses

February 22, 2011

This paper examines the impact of the reductions in interchange fees proposed by the the
Federal Reserve Board on consumers and small businesses. It finds that consumers and small business would face higher retail banking fees and lose valuable services as banks rationally seek to make up as much as they can for the debit interchange revenues they will lose under the Board’s proposal. The number of unbanked consumers would increase as lower-income households reduce the use of higher-priced accounts. Small businesses would lose money in the first 24 months the proposed rules are in effect because of the offsetting increase in bank fees. Most of these small businesses do not accept debit cards and therefore would not have any offsetting benefits from lower interchange fees. Large retailers would receive a windfall.

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