Friday, June 18, 2010

Todd Zywicki and Joshua Wright’s claims about the payment card market and economic theory are incorrect (“Durbin’s antitrust fantasies,” Opinion, Friday). MasterCard and Visa compete for card issuers, not for consumers or merchants. Competition for issuers does not result in consumer benefit because issuers are not price-competitive. They retain interchange revenue rather than pass it along to consumers via lower card prices or greater rewards. Retailers generally are more price-competitive than card issuers, so they are more likely to pass along the savings from lower interchange fees to consumers.

Mr. Zywicki and Mr. Wright also refuse to address clear evidence of an uncompetitive market: This year, Visa raised its debit interchange fees by as much as 40 percent without suffering any loss of market share. Consumers saw no additional benefits; debit rewards programs actually have been scaled back. The debit interchange market is broken; the Durbin amendment will fix it.

Finally, it’s worth noting that Mr. Zywicki and Mr. Wright’s employer, George Mason University, has announced it will no longer accept Visa for tuition payments because interchange rates are too high.


Associate professor of law

Georgetown University Law Center


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