retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Merchants Payment Coalition has released a study from economist Robert Shaprio of Sonecon LLC which it says "shows that debit card swipe fee reforms put $5.8 billion in consumers hands through lower prices. The debit fee reform also saved merchants $2.6 billion in 2012. The lower prices to consumers led to increased spending , which in turn helped create 37,501 new jobs."

However, the study maintains, "These savings and job gains, however, could have been substantially larger had the fees been cut to 12 cents as originally recommended by the Federal Reserve. If that cut had been implemented, an additional $2.79 billion would have been generated in consumer savings, $1.2 billion in merchant savings and 17,824 more jobs would have been created ... If swipe fees for all credit card transactions had been held to the same level as debit fees in 2012, consumers would have saved an additional $15.4 billion, merchants would have saved another $6.9 billion, which would have supported 98,600 new jobs per year. With both debit and credit reform in place, consumers and merchants would have realized total annual savings of $34.9 billion, creating a total of 153,976 jobs every year."

The Federal Reserve has appealed a ruling by Judge Richard J. Leon of Federal District Court for the District of Columbia, who said the Federal Reserve exceeded its authority when it set a 24 cent-per-transaction cap on debit card usage. The Fed had capped fees at 21 cents per transaction, much higher than the initial 12 cent cap it proposed, though half the average of 44 cents per transaction that traditionally has been charged."
KC's View:
The numbers are interesting, and ought to put pressure on the government to stop fighting the court decision to void the cap imposed by the Fed. At least, you'd think so.

The argument here long has been that as long as the majority of these savings are passed on to shoppers, swipe fee reform ought to be an easy sell. But if prices stay high and retailers only use the money they save to improve their bottom lines, all these arguments will somehow seem disingenuous.