Advocates Urge End to Visa-Mastercard Duopoly
Washington, D.C. — Along with 12 other advocacy groups, the American Economic Liberties Project and Americans for Financial Reform today sent a letter to a bipartisan set of congress members, urging them to pass the Credit Card Competition Act (CCCA) to address significant market failures in the credit card payment network. The American Economic Liberties Project also released a new policy brief to demystify the CCCA and debunk claims from its big business detractors. The letter and policy brief come ahead of a promised vote in the Senate this term.
“Credit card swipe fees are an egregious private sales tax bleeding billions from American businesses and families every year,” said Shahid Naeem, Senior Policy Analyst at the American Economic Liberties Project. “The CCCA will break Visa and Mastercard’s duopoly and inject desperately-needed competition into credit card payment networks to lower prices. There’s a reason U.S. businesses, from grocers and convenience stores to restaurants and gas stations, overwhelmingly support this bill: they want out from under the thumb of Visa and Mastercard and their exploitatively high fees. We urge Congress to reject the bank lobby’s spin and pass the CCCA.”
“Low-income and cash-paying consumers bear the brunt of the costs for swipe fees, all to pad the bottom line of Wall Street banks, who profit outrageously from the simple task of moving money,” said Renita Marcellin, Advocacy & Legislative Director for Americans for Financial Reform. “Swipe fees amount to a regressive charge on cash-paying consumers who are often forced to pay the same price as consumers with cards, a price that has the interchange fee baked into it. And they are doing so without receiving any of the rewards.”
The Credit Card Competition Act is a crucial step towards rectifying the longstanding hold of the Visa-Mastercard duopoly. Visa and Mastercard’s market power allows them to set sky-high swipe fees, ten times higher than they charge in Europe, that have more than doubled over the past decade. Merchants have no way to negotiate rates and have no choice but to accept the rates Visa and Mastercard set. These fees are then passed onto consumers.
As both the letter and the new policy brief explain, the Credit Card Competition Act will require banks issuing credit cards to offer multiple payment networks on their cards, jump-starting competition that will lower swipe fees and enhance security and other features, ultimately benefiting both consumers and small businesses.
The letter’s signatories include the American Economic Liberties Project, Americans for Financial Reform, Accountable.US, Center for Responsible Lending, Consumer Action, Demand Progress, Future of Music Coalition, Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Main Street Alliance, National Association of Consumer Advocates, National Independent Venue Association, Open Markets Institute, Public Citizen, Tzedek DC, and U.S. PIRG.
Read the full letter here.
Learn more about Economic Liberties here.
The American Economic Liberties Project works to ensure America’s system of commerce is structured to advance, rather than undermine, economic liberty, fair commerce, and a secure, inclusive democracy. Economic Liberties believes true economic liberty means entrepreneurs and businesses large and small succeed on the merits of their ideas and hard work; commerce empowers consumers, workers, farmers, and engineers instead of subjecting them to discrimination and abuse from financiers and monopolists; foreign trade arrangements support domestic security and democracy; and wealth is broadly distributed to support equitable political power.