Technology/Services

1,700 Retailers Join in Latest Plea for Credit-Card Fairness

In push for swipe fee legislation, merchants, groups call for more competition among networks
convenience store credit card and debit card payments
Photograph: Shutterstock

WASHINGTON — Nearly 1,700 companies and more than 200 merchant trade groups publicly asked the U.S. Congress to support the bipartisan Credit Card Competition Act of 2022, legislation that aims to enhance competition and choice in the credit card network market.

Merchants who put their brand names on the public statement include Walmart, Target, Alimentation Couche-Tard, 7-Eleven and more across industries and sizes.

“As members of the retail community and champions of the free market, we typically do not support government intervention except in cases where a market is not functioning. That is the case with the credit card marketplace in the United States,” said the letter from merchants.

The letter asserts that Visa and Mastercard control more than 83% of the U.S. credit card market and that swipe fees in the United States are seven times higher than in Europe.

In a separate letter, the trade associations said, “Passing this bill is one of the most important things Congress can do to provide relief for small businesses and consumers struggling amid near-record inflation in every state and congressional district. While this legislation would benefit all merchants, it is small retailers who are calling for swipe fee reform more than any segment of our industry. Small retailers have the narrowest profit margins and fewest resources and are hit hardest by continuing unjustified increases in swipe fees.”

The bill would direct the Federal Reserve to ensure that giant credit card-issuing banks offer a choice of at least two networks over which an electronic credit transaction may be processed, with certain exceptions. The bill was co-sponsored by U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-Kan.).

“The Credit Card Competition Act would bring much-needed relief to retailers and American consumers by simply requiring that Visa and Mastercard compete with other networks for both merchant and bank business,” read the letter from merchants.

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