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Durbin, Marshall, Welch Demand Answers From Visa and Mastercard on Unfair Swipe Fee Increases

WASHINGTON  U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, along with U.S. Senators Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-KS) and Peter Welch (D-VT) and four members of the House of Representatives, sent a letter to Visa and Mastercard insisting on an immediate reversal of their recent plans to increase credit card swipe fees on merchants and consumers again this fall—a move that would cost American businesses and merchants an additional $502 million annually.  In the letter, the Senators renewed their calls for competition in the payment processing industry and slammed Visa and Mastercard for their price-gouging tactics at the expense of hard-working Americans. 

“We write to you today to call on you to reverse your widely reported decision to increase costs imposed on merchants and consumers this fall, whether it be by increasing interchange fees or implementing new credit card fee structures.  This move would be profoundly misguided,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter.  “At a time when hard-working Americans and small business owners are struggling with higher costs of everyday essentials like gas and groceries, raising credit card fees would further contribute to inflationary pressures and unduly burden thousands of communities around the country that are trying to make ends meet.”

In June, Durbin, Marshall, Welch, and U.S. Senator J.D. Vance (R-OH) introduced the bipartisan Credit Card Competition Act.  This legislation would enhance competition and choice in the credit card network market which is currently dominated by the Visa-Mastercard duopoly.

“There is a growing level of mistrust among our constituents regarding the role that major financial institutions on Wall Street play during trying times,” the lawmakers continued.  “Your proposed actions risk cementing a perception that Visa and Mastercard are more interested in profiteering at the expense of hardworking Americans than in fostering a healthy, mutually beneficial relationship with your merchant partners and the communities that they serve.”

“If you choose to go forward, it will only provide further evidence of a broken market that is desperately in need of more competition, which we aim to address by passing our bipartisan, bicameral legislation—the Credit Card Competition Act,” the lawmakers said. 

“Your duopolistic control and heavy-handed market practices have disproportionately hurt American families and small businesses for far too long,” the lawmakers wrote.

Full text of the letter is available here.