Consumer banking advocate
Peter Mair writes:

Next Monday and Tuesday in Sydney, the House of
Representatives Economics Committee hosts a two-day hearing on the regulation
of Australia’s retail payment systems. The lions of the banking cartels will be
pitted against the retailers and a few “good guys” playing for the wider
community. This hearing could turn the tide of retail banking regulation in
Australia: my
feeds a few lines into the debate to help ensure this outcome.

Card payment systems are the main agenda, especially
regulation of fees for using debit cards which the Reserve Bank says will see
EFTPOS purchase transactions displacing credit cards. On this basic point, it
will be interesting to see if anyone expects the RBA’s regulation to work
effectively. Equally, it is not clear that anyone, other than the retailers and
the consumer advocates, actually wants to achieve the objectives the RBA says it
is aiming for.

Even though words like “phenomenal” and “outrageous” are
being applied by regulators to the profitability of credit card schemes, the
bank cartels will not welcome proposals for those profits being reined back. The
strategic question is whether the hearings will accommodate this wider
discussion of credit card regulation which the big hitters won’t want to re-open: will Hamlet play without the Prince?

CRIKEY: Peter Mair is scheduled to take part in the
hearings at 9am on Tuesday 16