B12 Solipsism

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Debit Fee Cut Is Rare Loss for Banks

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Poor poor lil’ banking corporations, might have to cut back on their bonuses. Or more likely, find other ways to screw their customers in the name of profits.

National Bank of Pakistan

Retailers have begged Congress for years, in vain, to limit the fees they must pay to banks when customers swipe credit or debit cards. Bills never reached a vote. Amendments were left on the table. The Senate did not even grant the courtesy of a committee hearing.

That long record of futility ended in a landslide Thursday night. Sixty-four senators, including 17 Republicans, agreed to impose price controls on debit transactions over the furious objections of the beleaguered banking industry.

The amendment to the Senate’s sweeping financial legislation could save billions of dollars for family restaurants and dry cleaners, Wal-Mart and Amazon.com, and every other business whose customers increasingly pay with debit cards. It does not address credit card fees directly.

Consumers also could save money, particularly at businesses like grocery stores that compete on price. But some experts warned that lower profit margins could lead banks to curtail bank card reward programs.

The Senate approved a series of amendments unfavorable to the banking industry over the last week, but this one was widely regarded as the most surprising. Meddling in dealings between businesses generally is anathema to Republicans and a relatively low priority for Democrats.

And this was not an easy vote. Lobbyists for the wounded but formidable banking industry made clear to some senators that this decision would affect future campaign donations, according to people who participated in those conversations.

But retailers mounted an unusually effective yearlong campaign to frame the issue as a chance for Congress to help small business. A leading trade group for chain retailers worked with small-business groups to make sure that every time a senator held a town hall meeting back home, a local business owner showed up to ask about card fees.

The industry also rode the support of Senator Richard J. Durbin, the Democratic whip, who wrote the amendment and pushed the sponsor of the banking overhaul bill, Senator Christopher J. Dodd of Connecticut, to allow a vote on the Senate floor.

(click to continue reading Debit Fee Cut Is Rare Loss for Largest U.S. Banks – NYTimes.com.)

 Did you catch this bit of anonymous sourcing?

But some experts warned that lower profit margins could lead banks to curtail bank card reward programs

Oh, noes! Profit margins might be reduced by 2%! Won’t somebody think of the children (of bankers)?

Written by Seth Anderson

May 15th, 2010 at 9:25 am

Posted in Business,politics

Tagged with ,

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