Electronic Payments Coalition Executive Director Molly Wilkinson today wrote Fed Chair Janet Yellen to express concerns regarding the detrimental effect the Durbin amendment is having on consumers.
In the letter, which was submitted pursuant to the regulatory review being conducted under the Economic Growth and Regulatory Paperwork Reduction Act of 1996 (EGRPRA), Wilkinson details how the Durbin amendment never fulfilled its promise of lowering costs to consumers at checkout, but has instead allowed retailers to pocket approximately an additional $36 billion in profit.
Citing a recent December 2015 Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond study, Wilkinson notes that few merchants are found to reduce prices or debit restrictions as debit costs decrease. In another survey 92% of the nearly 2000 consumers questioned reported that prices rose or stayed the same over the previous year.
“…[this] study confirms what common sense and economic theory tell us – that is, retailers never had any intention or economic incentive to pass their windfall on to consumers,” Wilkinson writes. “None of this should be any surprise, and consumers should not hold their breath for retailers to pass their Durbin windfall onto consumers through lower prices.”
Further, Wilkinson’s letter explains how low income Americans have been disproportionately and adversely impacted as the Durbin Amendment has led to a transfer of $1 to $3 billion annually from low-income households to large merchants and their shareholders.
“Regulators and policy makers should consider the economic consequences for the most vulnerable when promulgating new regulations and recognize that the Durbin Amendment, rather than helping with this worthwhile goal, merely aided retailers to pocket $36 billion dollars to date.”