It certainly has a certain populist aspect to it. People say big bad banks that are clearly networks are reaping big monopolistic wealth off merchants, and guess what: Merchants have to make it up somehow.

You know what? It's not clear merchants are going to pass savings on to consumers. Australia did this back a few years ago, and they have not had a huge amount of success as they thought they were going to have with that program.

What's the difference between fees for debit and credit?

With credit cards, [consumers] are hit with annual fees. … With a debit card, you don't incur interest and late payment fees. That's the major difference. In many respects, customers don't see much of a difference, other than the monthly statement.

Banks have all sorts of things hitting against them from litigation and all the regulatory reform. Banking over the next several years does not have a bright outlook from a profitability standpoint.

There's not a lot of lending going on. People aren't taking loans. The bottom line is, where will banks derive revenues to make themselves profitable as they look at what their costs are to produce services for customers?

They're not a nonprofit entity. They will look at allocating new fees for revenue generation purposes, where it will not tie them up with compliance issues or legal issues. You will see that there is this scrambling to see where they can make up for holes in their normal revenue stream.

liz.kay@baltsun.com

http://www.twitter.com/lfkay

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