Cinema owners and other merchants scored a significant victory in July 2013 when a recent Federal District Court ruling found the Federal Reserve Board misinterpreted the intent of Congress when it implemented debit card swipe fee reforms in October 2011.
An amendment to the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform Act required the Fed to ensure that debit card fees were “reasonable and proportional” to the cost of processing transactions. NATO grassroots and advocacy efforts were instrumental in helping pass the amendment, which was championed by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL).
Despite initially proposing a limit of 12 cents per transaction, the Fed instead voted to cap debit card interchange fees at 21 cents per transaction plus additional charges.
The ruling may be a victory for retailers, but the battle is not over. While the judge said it should take “months, not years” for the Fed to develop new rules, analysts reportedly expect current fees to remain in place for one or more years. Additionally, the Fed has not made a statement but could appeal the ruling.