Americans for Consumer Education and Competition, Visa USA’s PR and advocacy machine, which “has the financial support of Visa USA” has been quiet of late.
Normally that are countering our comments and issuing press releasesthat taunt millions of merchants which accept Visa’s network of electronic payment cards. They explain how helpful debit cards are and how it helps train teens about conserving money. However, we wonder whether Visa’s Washington D.C.-based tool will pull up tent and move on, as their source of funding is required to lay low during their planned IPO period? When industry experts begin to question why any investor would want to purchase equity in a company that faces possible insolvency due to their pending litigation, the company can be voiceless. One of their most comical press releases appeared right after our first class-action complaint in 2005. This one was adorable: they suggested that our litigation would force consumers to pay more. Instead, over the years, the member banks have vastly raised their rates and today we are paying $40 billion in hidden interchange fees each year. They failed to mention that while their release provoked the courage to demand that consumers need efficiency and choice, Visa is the giant monster which, along with MasterCard control, 80% of the total electronic payment network and the only thing that is efficient is how easily they can fix prices and practice anti-competitive illegal maneuvering to enrich their pockets.
Also notice how convenient it is for the giant card association to be wedged in the midst of a “quiet period” imposed by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Visa will be unable to comment when the EU Fair Trade ruling is announced within the next few weeks. They will also have to be silent as more and more merchants question the foundation of the interchange fees. They will have to be silent as motorists ask why Visa is reaping windfall profits for its member banks during our economic energy crisis.
[Background: When The Bill Comes Due,” Businessweek]