“Let’s be realistic,” he said. “It’s not a sensible, optional alternative.”
He particularly picked on the Durbin amendment in the Dodd-Frank Act, which caps the swipe fees banks charge merchants.
Merchants won a showdown with banks this summer, after the reform was called into question in June and nearly overturned.
Going forward, swipe fees will be capped at 21 cents — a sharp cut from the average 44 cents that banks had been charging. CardHub.com estimates these reforms will take a $9.4 billion bite out of the wallets of large banks.
To make up for the losses, banks have warned that they will raise other fees and create new ones for consumers, something that already appears to be happening.
Mr. Keating explained that free checking accounts are on the way out and the “model is not sustainable” because they cost banks $250 a year to manage. They were using money from swipe fees to fund these free services, but now they will have to cut many of them.
“Banks have to survive someway,” Mr. Keating said. “And the services they provide have to be paid for someway.”
Mr. Keating said that, despite the grumbling, the banking industry is adjusting in some cases to the new regulatory and market realities.
He noted, “The problem is if somebody lops off a finger, you’re going to figure out how to use that hand even in the absence of the finger.”