Bankers and merchants, pillars of the business world and frequent allies, are embroiled in a bitter lobbying battle over something Americans do 38 billion times a year — swipe their debit cards. Both sides vigorously claim to speak for consumers.
At stake is $16 billion annually that the Federal Reserve says stores pay to banks and credit card companies when customers use the cards — fees the Fed has proposed cutting.
Cut the fees, banks say, and they’ll have to abandon free checking and boost other charges to consumers to recover lost revenue. Merchants say lower fees would help them drop their prices and expand their businesses.