Merchants Ask for Swipe-Fee Status Quo During Fed Appeal

The U.S. Federal Reserve’s rules for debit-card transaction fees and processing should remain in place while the central bank appeals a decision throwing out the regulations, according to retailers who oppose the new directives.

Retailers “vastly prefer the status quo” to the “unregulated ‘free for all’ which would likely subject merchants to interchange fees well in excess of the Fed’s currents standard,” lawyers for retail interests wrote in papers filed today in federal court in Washington.

The merchants’ filing was in support of the Fed’s Aug. 26 request that the rules be left in place pending the central bank’s appeal.

The Fed is seeking to reverse U.S. District Judge Richard Leon’s ruling that it wrongly set the cap on debit-card transaction fees, known as swipe fees, at about 21 cents for each transaction, and neglected to bolster competition among payment networks.

If the Fed loses the appeal, it should be required to issue new rules within four months, retailers said in today’s filing.

The case is NACS v. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 11-cv-02075, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Zajac in federal court in Washington at azajac@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

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