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Does Dodd-Frank Have You Reaching for Your Cash?

In a society steadily moving toward a cashless future (if not yet a penniless one), we may be seeing a return to cash transactions in some cases, for a surprising reason:

A new law that was supposed to reduce costs for merchants that accept debit cards has instead sent Mr. Scherr‘s monthly processing bills much higher and forced him to reassess the way he does business.

That’s from an interesting Wall Street Journal article about an unintended consequence of the Dodd-Frank financial-overhaul legislation.Vendors used to pay on a sliding scale for debit-card transactions; Dodd-Frank set a flat fee, which can lead to higher payments on small transactions:

Many business owners who sell low-priced goods like coffee and candy bars now are paying higher rates — not lower — when their customers use debit cards for transactions that are less than roughly $10. … “Overnight, the variable costs of a transaction have tripled,” says Mr. English, who runs a marketing company that devises payment programs for vending machines. Some machine operators will raise prices and offer 25-cent discounts for cash starting in January, he says.

The transaction cost will likely get passed along to customers:

Redbox, a unit of Coinstar Inc. that rents movies through vending machines, says it is raising prices by 20% to $1.20 a movie starting next month due to higher costs, including debit-card fees. The company declined to specify how much of the increase was due to higher fees.

(HT: Hafsah M. Al-Hassan)