Recent public comments from the management of credit card issuers Visa and MasterCard drew an angry response from Senator Dick Durbin on Thursday, who said that the companies had misrepresented the risks of interchange fee reform for small banks and other businesses in an open letter.
According to Durbin, “the amendment I offered, which was passed by the Senate in a bipartisan vote of 64-33, would establish a reasonable interchange fee standard for transactions involving debit cards issued by banks with assets of over $10 billion. The amendment would also prevent your companies from punishing merchants who provide discounts to customers for use of a particular card network.”
In short, Durbin asserts that his amendment to the general financial reform bill would help, rather than hurt, the budgeting for smaller financial institutions. The Senator also accused Visa and MasterCard of “threatening” such banks and credit unions with their public criticism of the amendment.
The senator’s letter is the latest salvo in an ongoing public relations battle between large financial institutions and largely Democratic legislators over financial reform.