Subtle it’s not. In December 2010, as required by Dodd-Frank, the Board requested comment on a proposed rule that would establish debit card interchange fee standards and prohibit network exclusivity arrangements and routing restrictions. Under either of the two alternative proposals on fee standards, the maximum allowable interchange fee received by covered issuers for debit card transactions would be more than 70% lower than the 2009 average. One alternative is based on each issuer’s costs, with a safe harbor (initially set at 7 cents per transaction) and a cap (initially set at 12 cents per transaction). The other alternative is a stand alone cap (initially set at 12 cents per transaction).

The Treasury Department anno unced that it will allow lowand moderateincom e ind ividuals to receive tax refunds via prepaid card this year for the first time.

The proposed rule would prohibit issuers and networks from restricting the number of networks over which debit card transactions may be processed and from inhibiting a merchant’s ability to direct the routing of debit card transactions over any available network. The Board seeks comments on two alternative approaches: one would require at least two unaffiliated networks per debit card and the other would require at least two unaffiliated networks per debit card for each type of cardholder authorization method (such as signature or PIN). Comments were due by February 22, 2011.