Fed study shows trends in debit interchange

The Fed released its latest update on debit card interchange, and it showed very subtle but very telling trends for financial institutions with less than $10 billion in assets – a category called “exempt”, which includes all the credit unions in the U.S. except the top 7. While the lines of the graph (found here) look relatively horizontal, two takeaways are worth noting.

On one side of the coin, the average interchange for debit signature transactions (referred to by the Fed as a dual message) is increasing, from 50 cents in 2015 to 52 cents in 2018. While this sounds insignificant, a credit union that sees 100,000 signature transactions a month, is getting close to $24,000 more annually in interchange revenue for these transactions.

On the other side of the coin is debit PIN transactions (referred to by the Fed as a single message). The average interchange for these transactions is declining, from 30 cents in 2013 down to 25 cents in 2018, a full nickel. One of the drivers of this trend is the increasing sophistication of merchant processors to steer PIN transactions to the network that costs them the least.


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