We’re almost there. The seemingly never-ending David vs. Goliath battle between Wall Street Mega Banks and Main Street small businesses is coming to a close – and the little guys are on top.
For years, small business owners here in Massachusetts, and across the U.S., have been plagued by escalating swipe fees. I manage operations at Wachusett Mountain. At our facility alone, we paid $75,000 last year in swipe fees.
Two weeks ago, Congress rejected a proposed amendment sponsored by Senator Tester (D-MT) and Senator Corker (R-TN) that would postpone swipe fee reform for at least twelve months – a potentially costly move for U.S. small businesses and consumers.
Massachusetts’ own Senator Scott Brown and Senator John Kerry both stood up for Main Street, and voted against passage of this amendment – which would enable big banks and credit card companies to carry on as usual, and leave Main Street struggling to get by.
This unwavering support is what we on Main Street need in the coming weeks to ensure that, despite Wall Street’s efforts to do otherwise, critical debit card reform goes into effect on time, in its original form.
For years, Wall Street credit card giants that we as taxpayers bailed out just a few years back have been price gouging the little guys. For instance if someone comes into my business and purchases a small ticket item like coffee, the associated swipe fee is so high that we actually lose money. Clearly, the system begs the need for reform.
Senator Durbin recognized this last year when he championed an amendment to ensure that swipe fees are reasonable and proportional to the actual cost of each transaction. Even after being signed into law, the debate still raged as Wall Street shed millions on Capitol Hill to reverse this reform, resulting in the Tester Amendment to delay (and essentially undo) Senator Durbin’s good work. But with the amendment’s failure, the Durbin Amendment continues to move toward implementation as scheduled – a great move for merchants like us.
It has been a long road, and we’re not quite there, but with the support of Senator Brown, Senator Kerry and others in Congress, I believe that swipe fee reform is on the horizon and look forward to seeing new rules limiting debit card swipe fees enacted next month.