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Emily Maltby
The Wall Street Journal|wsj.com
Stores may soon be allowed to make credit-card customers pay more

Swipe FeesMost people are keenly aware of the annoying ATM fees, late fees and over-limit fees that some banks impose. Yet few know about the credit card “swipe fees,” which are invisible to consumers and have been the bane of hundreds of thousands of merchants, including Mike and Suzanne Schumann, furniture-store owners in Minneapolis.

For the Schumanns, who own three storefronts, staying ahead of the cost of these swipe fees is as critical to their business as staying ahead of interior design trends.

That’s because the costs associated with accepting plastic amounted to more than their profit and represented their third biggest overhead expense last year-after rent and payroll.

A merchant’s swipe fee is based on a complex algorithm that accounts for multiple variables such as the type of the credit card read more »

 

In the depths of the credit crunch, community lenders became a popular financing source for Main Street. But small-business owners may need to work harder to get support from local banks these days.

Even though most community banks came through the financial collapse in good health, with lots of capital and liquidity to extend loans, some of them have gone under. So, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., Federal Reserve and other regulatory agencies are increasing their scrutiny of local lenders to spot troubled assets and keep the banks in solid financial shape. As part of the effort, the watchdogs are asking the banks to boost their capital and loan-loss reserves even further — which mean raising more money, getting more selective about making new loans and canceling the risky loans on their books. read more »

 
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