(New York Times) — Fees paid by retailers to banks for debit card purchases, a $20 billion annual expense that has been the subject of a furious political battle over the last year, will be cut in half after the Federal Reserve voted Wednesday to cap the charges. The cap was mandated last year in the Dodd-Frank financial regulation law, but the Fed action was far less draconian than bankers had feared. The new cap of 21 to 24 cents a transaction, down from an average of 44 cents before the law passed, is roughly double the 12 cents tentatively proposed by the Fed last December. Consumers are unlikely to see any immediate change at the register because they do not pay the fees directly. But merchants have complained that as the cost of debit fees — a charge for processing payments — has risen in recent years, they have had to add it to the prices they charge.
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