Supreme Court will not rule on swipe fees

Retailers will have to live with a U.S. regulation they say lets banks overcharge merchants by $3 billion a year.

The U.S. Supreme Court, without comment, left intact a Federal Reserve rule governing how much banks can collect for debit-card transactions. The retail industry argued the regulation didn’t go far enough in capping swipe fees at 21 cents per transaction.

The use of debit cards has soared in the last decade. Consumers used them for 47 billion transactions in 2012, according to federal statistics. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. alone says it handled more than 3 billion debit-card transactions at its stores in the last fiscal year.

“The cumulative financial impact of the rule is massive,” the appeal argued. The retail group was led by NACS, formerly known as the National Association of Convenience Stores.

The rebuff is a victory for Bank of America Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co., the top U.S. debit-card issuers, preserving a multibillion-dollar revenue stream for the industry. The largest banks earn as much as 5 percent of their revenue from card fees. The rejection also benefits the leading debit-processing networks, Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc. 

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