Judge scolds Fed for slow action on inflated ‘swipe fees’

The battle over "swipe fees" for debit card payments has been intense since the coalition of retailers filed a lawsuit in October 2011 over a 2010 law set inflated fees on the recommendation of the Federal Reserve. This week, one judge is not pulling any punches when addressing the issue and the Fed.

A recent article from the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, Minnesota, covered a hearing this week where Judge Richard Leon had harsh words for the Fed. Two weeks prior, Leon ruled that the Federal Reserve had inflated "swipe fees" when it was raised from 12 centers per transaction to 21 cents.

Since then, the Fed has done little to change that and during a hearing this week, the lawyer for the Fed said she could not speak for the board on why that had been the case.

"Leon gave the Fed another week to come up with a position on interim fee reductions and a timeline for permanently installing new, lower fees. But he told the associate general counsel representing the government that he expected Scott Alvarez, the Fed's top lawyer, to be in court to answer questions on August 21," the article read.

He went on to criticize Federal Reserve Board members for being "out making speeches" while businesses and consumers faced improperly inflated fees. He went as far as saying board members could return from their vacations or get on a conference call and make this a high priority.

This is good news for retailers, but could mean more plastic transactions. Because of this, merchants need to make sure they have a proper credit card processing solution to be able handle any increase in card payments.

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