It wasn’t long ago when people lamented the destruction of small businesses by big box stores. That sentiment seems to have gone into history with a new law, The Big Box Bill.
This past week, big-box retailers led by Walmart and Target were successful in getting Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Roger Marshall (R-KS), J.D. Vance (R-OH), and Peter Welch (D-VT) to introduce legislation that would create new credit card routing mandates. The bill is also called the Big Box Bill and the Big Box Bailout.
These mandates would allow Walmart to process credit card transactions based solely on what is cheapest for them without regard to the value consumers derive from rewards and many other benefits.
This “Big-Box Bait-and-Switch” would add billions of dollars to the bottom lines of mega-retailers every year while eliminating almost all the funding that goes towards popular credit card rewards programs, weakening cybersecurity protections, and reducing access to credit, particularly for Americans who need it most.
THE 2010 DEBACLE FOR THE LITTLE GUY
The same promises were made during the Durbin Amendment debate in 2010, yet small, “exempt” banks saw a quarter of their debit card revenue disappear, and fraud costs increased after it became law.
And just like debit card routing mandates passed in 2010, the Big-Box Bill will solely benefit Walmart and Target at the expense of everyone else. While retailers reap the benefits of this legislation, consumers, community banks, credit unions, and small businesses are left to pay the price. Credit card routing mandates would rob them of the security, efficiency, and convenience they receive from choosing which credit card networks are best for them.
TEAMSTERS SEE DOLLAR SIGNS
Unions – The Teamsters – laud Durbin and Marshall’s Credit Card Competition Act of 2023 as making credit cards competitive, calling credit cards with benefits and points predatory. Small community banks and credit unions vehemently oppose the bill due to costs and promises that will never be fulfilled.
THE POINTS GUY
According to The Points Guy, the Credit Card Competition Act of 2023 (“the Big-Box Bill”) proposed by two U.S. senators — Richard Durbin, D-Ill., and Roger Marshall, R-Kan. — would be disastrous for consumers, especially the millions of consumers.
When the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was passed, points disappeared from debit cards.
A 2015 economic survey from the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond found little evidence that merchants passed along their cost savings to consumers. Most respondents (77.2%) indicated they kept prices the same in the wake of the new rules, while a sizable portion (21.6%) actually increased prices. Only 1.2% passed on lower prices to customers. With the Durbin Amendment, the cost-savings went to the bottom lines of shareholders and retailers, not consumers.
Richard Durbin is now trying to do the same thing on a much larger scale. The bill known as the Big Box Bill will take away rewards and benefits earned through points.
This legislation would allow big-box retailers — like Walmart and Target — to choose cheaper, less safe credit card processing networks that expose private consumer information to foreign networks in China and Russia without regard to the value that consumers derive from rewards and many other credit card benefits.
Simply put, it would kill the funding for credit card rewards programs and allow retailers to pocket the savings from lower interchange fees (also known as swipe fees). With lower fees collected, consumers would lose out on rewards, purchase protection, and fraud protection while retailers add to their bottom line.