12 CFR 235.7 - Limitations on payment card restrictions.
(a)Prohibition on network exclusivity -
(1)In general. An issuer or payment card network shall not directly or through any agent, processor, or licensed member of a payment card network, by contract, requirement, condition, penalty, or otherwise, restrict the number of payment card networks on which an electronic debit transaction may be processed to less than two unaffiliated networks.
(2)Permitted arrangements. An issuer satisfies the requirements of paragraph (a)(1) of this section only if the issuer allows an electronic debit transaction to be processed on at least two unaffiliated payment card networks, each of which does not, by rule or policy, restrict the operation of the network to a limited geographic area, specific merchant, or particular type of merchant or transaction, and each of which has taken steps reasonably designed to enable the network to process the electronic debit transactions that the network would reasonably expect will be routed to it, based on expected transaction volume.
(3)Prohibited exclusivity arrangements by networks. For purposes of paragraph (a)(1) of this section, a payment card network may not restrict or otherwise limit an issuer's ability to contract with any other payment card network that may process an electronic debit transaction involving the issuer's debit cards.
(4)Subsequent affiliation. If unaffiliated payment card networks become affiliated as a result of a merger or acquisition such that an issuer is no longer in compliance with paragraph (a) of this section, the issuer must add an unaffiliated payment card network through which electronic debit transactions on the relevant debit card may be processed no later than six months after the date on which the previously unaffiliated payment card networks consummate the affiliation.
(b)Prohibition on routing restrictions. An issuer or payment card network shall not, directly or through any agent, processor, or licensed member of the network, by contract, requirement, condition, penalty, or otherwise, inhibit the ability of any person that accepts or honors debit cards for payments to direct the routing of electronic debit transactions for processing over any payment card network that may process such transactions.
(c)Compliance dates -
(1)General. Except as otherwise provided in paragraphs (c)(2), (c)(3), and (c)(4) of this section, the compliance date of paragraph (a) of this section is April 1, 2012.
(2)Restrictions by payment card networks. The compliance date of paragraphs (a)(1) and (a)(3) of this section for payment card networks is October 1, 2011.
(3)Debit cards that use transaction qualification or substantiation systems. Issuers shall comply with the requirements of paragraph (a) of this section by April 1, 2013, for electronic debit transactions using debit cards that use point-of-sale transaction qualification or substantiation systems for verifying the eligibility of purchased goods or services.
(i) With respect to non-reloadable general-use prepaid cards, the compliance date is April 1, 2013. Non-reloadable general-use prepaid cards sold prior to April 1, 2013 are not subject to paragraph (a) of this section.
(ii) With respect to reloadable general-use prepaid cards, the compliance date is April 1, 2013. Reloadable general-use prepaid cards sold prior to April 1, 2013 are not subject to paragraph (a) of this section unless and until they are reloaded, in which case the following compliance dates apply:
(A) With respect to reloadable general-use prepaid cards sold and reloaded prior to April 1, 2013, the compliance date is May 1, 2013.
(B) With respect to reloadable general-use prepaid cards sold prior to April 1, 2013, and reloaded on or after April 1, 2013, the compliance date is 30 days after the date of reloading.