Aug. 22, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Larkin: Doomsday Predictions on Debit Card Fees Were Off

The truth is, small banks are thriving post-reform. They are receiving higher swipe fees than their big bank competitors and are using the money to compete to get more customers who are disgruntled with the way big banks have treated them.

Last year 1.3 million new customers signed up at credit unions, twice as many as the year before, for a record of 92 million members.

While customers fled big banks — one in 10 decamped to a smaller bank last year — less than 1 percent of small banks’ customers left, according to the market research firm J.D. Powers, which surveyed 5,000 bank customers.

According to the American Banker, small banks’ swipe fees actually rose during the fourth quarter of 2011 after reform took effect, to a little more than half a billion dollars.

And Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told a convention of community bankers their profits as a group rose last year. He also promised he would ensure all regulations, not just the Durbin amendment, didn’t put them at a disadvantage.

“We will work to maintain a clear distinction between community banks and larger institutions in the application of new regulations,” Bernanke said.

In a yearly ritual, the American Bankers Association has descended on Capitol Hill again this week complain about the Durbin amendment. This time, when they say small banks are hurting, don’t be fooled.

Peter Larkin is president and CEO of the National Grocers Association.

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