Swipe fee fix draws praise from industry groups
ARLINGTON, Va. Financial-reform legislation that seeks to regulate and curb interchange swipe fees that cause unforeseen expenses for retailers has drawn praise from industry groups.
The Food Marketing Institute on Friday applauded congressional efforts to overhaul interchange fees, which are collected by banks and credit card companies each time a consumer uses a credit or debit card to make a purchase, and ultimately can lead to higher prices for consumers. FMI has represented the voices of more than 26,000 supermarkets to address the outrageous fees and to negotiate reasonable swipe fees.
“FMI and our members have had interchange fee reform at the top of our list of priority issues for the past decade,” said Leslie G. Sarasin, FMI president and CEO. “These fees represent the fastest growing expense of our retail members and the only one over which we have zero control. This compromise is a good deal for consumers and is a strong step forward for competition. I feel confident that our customers have much to gain in the way of discounts and lower prices. We applaud the House and Senate conferees for their leadership.”
The National Retail Federation also praised the House-Senate conference committee’s decision to include a fix for rapidly rising debit card swipe fees.
“The conference committee has struck a blow for small retailers and their customers,” NRF SVP and general counsel Mallory Duncan said. “For years, these soaring fees have been taking billions of dollars out of consumers’ pockets and driving up prices. This is unsustainable. With this conference report in hand, Congress has an opportunity to stand up for Main Street businesses and consumers and rein in the greed of the big Wall Street banks and credit card companies.”
The National Community Pharmacists Association, which represents independent pharmacies, applauded the bipartisan legislation as well, saying it would protect consumers and small businesses from credit card companies’ use of exorbitant transaction fees and anti-competitive rules.
“If the bill becomes law, the constant spikes in fees for credit card transactions would be mitigated by regulations with real teeth in them. The legislation will hopefully result in reasonable transaction fees and restrict practices that threaten the financial viability of small businesses like independent community pharmacies, especially during these trying economic times,” NCPA president Joseph Harmison wrote in a letter.
FDA approves OraSure Technologies’ hepatitis C test
SILVER SPRING, Md. The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new rapid blood test for detecting hepatitis C, the agency said Friday.
The FDA approved Bethlehem, Pa.-based OraSure Technologies’ OraQuick HCV rapid antibody test, a test strip that delivers results in about 20 minutes. The test however, is not approved for HCV screening of the general population.
About 3.2 million people in the United States are chronically infected with HCV, and 17,000 people are newly infected each year. The disease can lead to liver disease and cancer, and is associated with around 12,000 deaths in the United States annually.
“Approval of OraQuick means that more patients can be notified of their HCV infection faster so that they can consult with their physicians for appropriate health measures,” FDA Center for Devices and Radiological Health director Jeffrey Shuren stated. “Getting faster treatment is an important public health step to control this dangerous disease.”
A&P expands Live Better!
MONTVALE, N.J. The A&P family of supermarkets has expanded the Live Better! Wellness Club for its A&P, SuperFresh, Waldbaum’s and Pathmark stores throughout the Northeast to include a new incentives program.
Fresh & Healthy Rewards provides Live Better! members with 20%-off coupons when they spend $50 in the produce section. Customers can sign up for the Live Better! wellness club at the courtesy desk or pharmacy department of their local A&P, SuperFresh, Waldbaum’s and Pathmark supermarkets.
The supermarket chain said the new program reflects its committment to providing shoppers with budget-friendly ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle.