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Inside Washington (04/08/2011)
* WASHINGTON (4/11/11)--Rep. Barney Frank, the ranking Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, Thursday expressed optimism about a Senate bill delaying the proposed interchange rule (American Banker April 8). The Debit Interchange Fee Study Act would suspend implementation of the proposed rule for two years and calls for a one-year study of debit interchange fees. Frank said a key to the climate surrounding the interchange proposal came in February when Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman Sheila Bair and Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke warned the rule could hurt small banks despite an exemption in the law for institutions with less than $10 billion of assets. Frank said if a bill passes in the Senate, he believes it will move through the House quickly. The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) supports the new bill and opposes a cap on interchange fees and has told federal lawmakers that the proposed interchange rule would limit consumer options, competition and technological innovation. Interchange fees allow business costs, including the risk of consumer nonpayment, to be shared by the payments’ participants, CUNA said … * WASHINGTON (4/11/11)--The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) appears to have softened its position on overdraft program guidance (American Banker April 8). In a banker conference call and in a "frequently asked questions" (FAQ) release on the topic, the FDIC indicated institutions under its supervision can communicate with customers who repeatedly incur overdraft charges via periodic statements rather than through in-person or telephone contacts. Cynthia Blankenship, vice chairman and chief operating officer of the $290 million-asset Bank of the West in Grapevine, Texas, first suggested the approach to FDIC Chair Sheila Bair during the recent Independent Community Bankers of America convention. Bair said the approach sounded workable. Blankenship said the original guidance, issued in November, was costly and cumbersome. The original guidance mentioned only telephone or in-person contact as means of contacting habitual overdraft users. In the conference call and the FAQ, the FDIC noted that banks have other alternatives. For example, a bank could expand on information it is already required to include in a customer’s normal statement …

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