West Virginia consumers saved $27 million last year as a result of reduced debit card fees, according to study released last week by the Merchants Payments Coalition.
In October 2011, the Federal Reserve capped the fee debit card companies could charge retailers each time a card is used at 24 cents per transaction. Prior to that, retailers could be charged up to 48 cents per transaction.
Retailers have long bemoaned these so-called swipe fees as an unnecessary cost. As part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, Congress instructed the Federal Reserve to cap these fees.
The study released last week said the reduced fees saved consumers $5.8 billion nationally in 2012, with merchants saving about $2.6 billion.
In West Virginia, consumers saved about $27 million. The study estimated this extra money helped create about 172 jobs in the state last year.
Jan Vineyard, president of the West Virginia Oil Marketers and Grocers Association, said the reform is helping businesses statewide.
Meanwhile, the study said consumers could save even more if regulators also applied the cap to credit card swipe fees. The study said if those fees had also been reduced to 24 cents, consumers and would have saved $22.3 billion last year.
"It's imperative that we get this right and keep moving forward with swipe fee reform so that merchants can continue to pass along their savings through lower prices and invigorate consumer spending, our primary economic driver," Vineyard said.