The Federal Reserve released a 338-page list this week that many Wichita-area bankers are happy to be on.
The list is of banks that will be exempt from the regulator's rule change that caps how much banks can charge merchants to process debit card transactions.
"We're very excited about being on the list," said Brad Elliott, chief executive of Equity Bank, the $485 million-asset bank based in Andover.
For banks like Equity, being on the exempt list means they can continue to charge the fees they say accurately reflect their costs of offering debit cards, including paying for anti-fraud measures.
But there could be a downside to being on the list, bankers say.
The concern is whether some retailers will prohibit customers from using debit cards issued by exempt banks or the biggest banks that aren't exempt will drive smaller banks' fees lower.
A review of the Fed's list shows that many of the 57 banks doing business in the Wichita market are exempt from the fees. Same for most of the credit unions operating here.
That's because of a clause in the interchange rule — which takes effect Oct. 1 — that frees banks and credit unions with less than $10 billion in assets from the cap on interchange fees.
The Fed said it would review the list annually to determine which institutions still meet the criteria.
There are several institutions doing business in the area that aren't exempt and are on a smaller, 14-page list: Bank of America, Commerce Bank, UMB Bank and Wells Fargo.
For non-exempt banks, the rule caps the interchange fee at 21 cents per transaction, and 22 cents for institutions that meet the Fed's criteria for anti-fraud measures.
The cap is higher than the 12 cents per transaction that was originally proposed. But the banking industry estimates that an interchange fee of 40 cents per transaction is what is needed to cover the costs of a bank debit card program, including anti-fraud costs.
Even though the rules are in black and white, Lyndon Wells of Intrust Bank is not convinced that his $3.7 billion-asset bank will be able to collect after October the same fees it does now.
"We believe that current interchange fees are necessarily going to be reduced and certainly not maintained at current levels," said Wells, executive vice president at Intrust.
He said Intrust officials think that in order to remain competitive with bigger banks that are subject to the cap and to have their debit cards accepted by major retailers, the bank will have to lower its interchange fees.
"Obviously whenever we price anything we have to consider the market," Wells said.
At this point, Wells said it's impossible to know exactly how it will all play out. But the bank's expectations are its interchange fees will be trimmed — even if their regulator isn't forcing the reduction.
"We are unable to quantify today what the ultimate impact will be," he said.
Those are the same questions faced by officials at Equity.
We don't know how that plays out over time," Elliott said. "Do they stop taking certain cards tied to those higher fees?"