US lawmakers have delayed plans to reform credit card interchange legislation until beyond 2010, in a move that has cheered banks and card companies but disappointed consumer groups and merchants who had been pushing hard for a reduction in card swipe fees.
In a meeting before cheering members of the Credit Union National Association, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank announced his committee would not take up interchange legislation this year.
The decision follows the publication in November of a US Government Accountability Office report which said that the imposition of new regulations on credit card interchange fees would be difficult to implement and unlikely to benefit consumers.
The Electronic Payments Coalition welcomed Frank's announcement: "Chairman Frank has substantial expertise in complex financial matters, and an unblemished record in consumer protection. It's no surprise that he'd move very deliberately before involving his committee in a fight between two businesses."
Despite the setback, the National Association of Convenience Stores vowed to continue the fight.
"With main street businesses and consumers hurting, and banks announcing increased bonuses at the same time they announce more fees, it is past time for Congress to act on swipe fee reform. We plan to work until needed reform becomes a reality," says Lyle Beckwith, Nacs senior vice president of government relations.