Small businesses speak-up over interchange fees

KMOX St. Louis
June 14, 2010
By: Jim Anderson

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- In the debate over so-called interchange fees, small businesses are speaking up.

At issue are the fees that Master Card and Visa collect on every transaction. U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is sponsoring an amendment to increase competition between the two industry-dominating cards, Visa and Master Card, and presumably lower those fees and loosen rules for retailers to offer, for example, discounts for cash.

The banks say this would take money from them and give it to big retailers with no benefit to the consumer, but Sam Toia, vice chairman of the Illinois Restaurant Association, says that isn’t so. “I heard this legislation is only supposed to be taking from the banks and giving to the big businesses like Target and Shell,” he said at a news conference with Durbin on Sunday in Chicago . “No. I don’t think so. You give us that money back, we’ll create more entry-level jobs, we’ll retain jobs, we’ll grow our businesses, we’ll green our kitchens, and that’s why I think this legislation is great.”

The amendment is part of the financial reform bill that has passed the U.S. Senate. It is being reconciled with the House financial reform bill. On Sunday, U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Chicago), who is on the conference committee, endorsed the amendment. Durbin said “Visa and Master Card hate it like the devil hates holy water.”