SACRAMENTO /California Newswire/ — What: Investigative Hearing of the Assembly Banking & Finance Committee on the billions of dollars charged in undisclosed “interchange” fees to California consumers and merchants by the banking industry on every credit or debit card transaction. These transactions cost California consumers and merchants more than $5 billion a year.

When: Monday, January 25, 2010, 2 p.m.
Where: State Capitol, Sacramento, Room 444
Who: Assemblymember Pedro Nava, Chair, Assembly Banking & Finance Committee,

representatives from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, consumer

organizations, California Credit Union League, community banks, Food Marketing

Institute, Small Business California, a 7-Eleven and bookstore owner and the

National Retail Association (See Agenda Below) .

Chairman Nava said, “California consumers and businesses are being taken to the cleaners to the tune of 5 billion dollars. Wall Street banks are holding us hostage and something must be done to return this money to struggling small businesses and consumers.”

A recent Wall Street Journal article estimated that U.S. banks “raked in $48 billion last year from credit and debit card fees.” Overall merchant fees, including other revenue collected by banks and processing middlemen, are up 78% from $25.5 billion in 2003, according to the Nilson Report, a Carpinteria newsletter that tracks the payments industry.

7-Eleven stores across the country last year collected more than 1.6 million signatures urging Congress to address interchange fees. In response, Congressmen Peter Welch (D-VT) and Bill Shuster (R-PA) introduced HR 2382, the Credit Card Interchange Fees Act of 2009. Additionally, Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) introduced S. 1212 and Congressmen Conyers (D-MI) introduced HR 2695, The Credit Card Fair Fee Act of 2009, which will allow merchants to negotiate interchange fees. In response to Federal legislation, Chairman Nava is conducting an Assembly Banking and Finance informational hearing to examine the interchange fee system as well as find solutions on how to save Californians the $427 they spend a year on interchange fees.