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'Regulator' Reform Enters Endgame

Financial regulator reform enters endgame. It's the regulator who matters. It is ultimately not so much what the bill says, but how the regulators — in this case, the Federal Reserve — interprets the rules.

Just look at what is happening today with the cap on debit card swipe fees. Senator Durbin and Rep. Barney Frank say they have reached agreement to keep the the cap on debit card "swipe" fees that was approved by the Senate but will also make some changes. What changes?

There appears to be 3 major changes:

1) narrowing the definition of "interchange transaction fee" (which is the fee the merchant's bank pays to the customer's bank during a debit transaction )

2) narrowing the circumstances under which network fees (an additional proceessing fee) can be regulated

3) requiring the Fed to consider costs related to fraud prevention. Here is a crack you can drive a semi through. Who is the source of fraud prevention information? The industry itself. Now, regulators can accept the idea that, say, for every $1.00 the industry takes in in fees, they spend, say, 20 cents of that to combat fraud.

Top Credit Card Companies:

Visa

Mastercard

JPMorgan Chase

Capital One Financial

American Express

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  • A CNBC reporter since 1990, Bob Pisani covers Wall Street from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

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