Vote on Credit Card Competition Act Could Happen This Week

Movement comes after Visa, Mastercard plan to raise network, interchange fees
Visa and Mastercard credit cards
Photograph: Shutterstock

A vote on the Credit Card Competition Act could happen as early as this week, the National Association of Convenience Stores said.

Sponsors of the legislation, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), and Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kansas), are advocating for the bill to be considered as an amendment to a package of spending bills known as the “minibus,” NACS said.

Durbin, Marshall, and another sponsor Sen. Peter Welch (D-Vermont), spoke Wednesday on the Senate floor advocating for the act, which aims to reduce excessive swipe fees by breaking the monopoly Visa and Mastercard have held and requiring large credit-card issuers to allow two credit-card networks to process payments.

The Wall Street Journal said in late August that Visa and Mastercard were planning to raise credit-card network and interchange fees starting in October and April. The changes could result in retailers paying an additional $502 million annually in fees, according to the report, citing CMSPI. U.S. retailers paid an estimated $93 billion in Visa and Mastercard credit-card fees last year, the Journal said.

“Why is it that American citizens and consumers and merchants pay seven times what is paid by merchants and individuals in Europe? It’s because our government doesn’t protect our consumers,” Welch said Wednesday on the Senate floor. “Our government is not protecting our merchants and our small businesses. Where there is a monopoly—or in this case a duopoly—and there’s this massive pricing power that Visa and Mastercard have, they’re doing what monopolies do and duopolies do: they abuse that pricing power, and they stick it to our merchants.”

If the act passes as written, one of the credit-card networks must be different from Visa or Mastercard’s networks, but could include the networks of American Express and Discover, according to a summary of the bill provided by Durbin’s office.

“I’ll always choose main street over Wall Street,” Durbin said Wednesday. “It is long overdue for Congress to break up the sweetheart deal that Visa, and Mastercard, and the biggest banks in America and certain airlines enjoy. We must bring the bipartisan Credit Card Competition Act to the floor for a vote.”

The bipartisan Credit Card Competition Act of 2023, designed to provide merchants relief from swipe fees, was reintroduced in Congress in June and has the support of the NACS, the Merchants Payment Coalition (MPC), the National Retail Federation (NRF) and other business groups.

NACS is asking industry advocates to urge their senators to vote in favor of the bill. It provides a template message to send to senators here.

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