A coalition of banks, credit unions, and electronic payment networks have hired a vast team of lobbyists that includes 118 former government officials as they aim to derail the implementation of rules governing the price charged to retail businesses by banks and credit unions every time a customer uses a debit card to pay.
The Electronic Payments Coalition is opposed to a new rule proposed by the Federal Reserve that would cap debit interchange fees, the cost per debit card swipe charged to retailers, at 12 cents per swipe. This would amount to a 70 percent reduction in the fee, a boon for retailers and cut in profits for banks.
The lobbying operation consists of some of the biggest names in Washington and keeps growing. Already this year coalition members have registered with five new lobbying firms to lobby on the interchange rules. FIRST Group, Hollier & Associates, and Cornerstone Government Relations are all registered as lobbying for Visa, Covington & Burling is registered with Wells Fargo, and SNR Denton is registered with the Independent Community Bankers Association.
A Sunlight Foundation report from earlier this week showed that the political action committees of coalition members have contributed $500,000 to lawmakers over the first two months of this year.
Below is a chart of all revolving door lobbyists for Electronic Payments Coalition members that were listed as registered to lobby on debit interchange fee rules in either 2010 or 2011:
Data comes from the Senate Office of Public Records and the Center for Responsive Politics.