Durbin Responds to OCC Chief on Interchange, Meets with Small Business About Benefits of Reform

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) sent a letter to the Acting Comptroller of the Currency, John Walsh, yesterday, in response to his recent comments about interchange reform. Durbin’s letter corrected the record about what the new interchange law will and won’t do, and urged the Acting Comptroller to study up on the new law and its benefits to consumers and small businesses.


“I write regarding the comments that you submitted on March 4 to the Federal Reserve on its draft rulemaking on debit card interchange fees, which reflect either a misunderstanding or a misrepresentation of the interchange reform law that Congress passed,” Durbin wrote. “You state that limiting banks from recovering debit card costs through network-fixed interchange fees ‘has long term safety and soundness consequences.’ It is difficult to understand how the nation’s $13 trillion dollar banking industry would suffer ‘safety and soundness consequences’ from reasonable regulation of the debit interchange fees received by the nation’s largest one percent of banks…[P]ast experience in this country and present examples in other countries demonstrate that while banks may like debit interchange revenue, they can get along perfectly well with less of it. In your capacity as Acting Comptroller of the Currency, and as you await the nomination of your replacement, I urge you and the OCC to take steps to fully understand the interchange reform that Congress enacted and to represent that reform accurately in future public statements.”


Durbin also met with a group of Illinois small business owners today as he continues to discuss the benefits of interchange reform to small businesses and consumers. Durbin met with small business owners who were in Washington for a national fly-in day in support of the interchange reforms Congress passed last year. The new law asks the Federal Reserve to ensure that interchange fees are “reasonable and proportional” to cost of processing a transaction. The Fed’s rules are expected to be released next month.


“Last year Congress passed common sense legislation to protect small businesses and consumers from the fees charged by big banks and credit card companies on debit card purchases,” Durbin said. “I’ll continue to stand with small business owners as we fight Wall Street’s desperate attempts to block reforms from going into effect.”