| March 9, 2011

Major banks seek to replace debit card revenue

Since Congressional regulations on debit cards took effect last year, major U.S. banks have been looking for ways to increase revenue lost to the legislation.

Now, some banks are considering making changes to their debit card systems, which would allow transactions to bounce in a similar manner as checks, when they are not tied to enough capital in a consumer bank account.

In addition, major financial institutions are also weighing whether or not to “unbundle” debit cards, a process that would divide debit card service costs between merchants and the consumer, The Wall Street Journal reports. Under this proposed scenario, banks could charge merchants more to guarantee the payment of debit card swipes.

“We’ve helped develop the debit-payment mechanism, and someone saying, ‘We don’t want to pay for that,’ forces us to rethink things,” Joe Price, Bank of America’s head of consumer and small business banking, told the news source.

However, if banks were to enact such proposals, consumers would likely lose out on additional savings from merchants, as many economists think the money retailers would save on processing debit card transactions would trickle down to consumers.

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