ICLE White Paper

Price Controls on Payment Card Interchange Fees: The U.S. Experience


In 2009, the U.S. Congress passed the “Durbin Amendment” to the Dodd-Frank financial reforms. In October 2011, the Durbin Amendment was implemented by a Federal Reserve rulemaking that effectively halved the debit card “interchange fee” that may be charged by banks with over $10 billion in assets. This paper assesses the emerging data on Durbin’s effects and provides an in-depth review of the actual U.S. experience with the Durbin Amendment.

The paper begins with a brief discussion of the role and benefits of payment cards. It then proceeds to a description of the Durbin Amendment’s interchange fee caps, followed by an assessment of the effect of the caps on bank customers, comparing the differential effect on customers of banks subject to the caps versus those that are not subject to them. This leads to a discussion of the wider effect of the caps, with particular focus on the effect on poorer households, on the quality of banking services, and on the usage of different types of payment cards.