Visa and MasterCard can still require merchants that use their networks to accept all their branded cards. It’s just that retailers can now offer incentives for lower-cost cards.
The customer isnt always king. Sometimes hes just a pawn.The feud over the so-called swipe fees merchants pay banks when customers use plastic is reaching a crescendo and will likely hit registers in coming months.
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(October 14, 2010) TCF National Bank’s federal lawsuit against the controls on debit card interchange contained in the Dodd-Frank financial reform law draws scant sympathy from retailers who have been battling against card interchange, including a merchant and entrepreneur who has been leading a crusade against the pricing mechanism for years. “It’s nonsense,” says Mitch Goldstone, president and chief executive of ScanMyPhotos.com, Irvine, Calif. “It’s just another distraction.”
Goldstone argues the suit, which names the Federal Reserve as defendant and claims that the law’s provision for the Fed to control debit card interchange is unconstitutional, represents an effort by banks and the card networks to preserve status-quo interchange pricing for as long as possible. “It’s just a big game to them,” he says. “They’re just trying to run out the clock. Every day Visa and the banks get away without addressing interchange, they make another $120 million.” TCF filed its suit on Tuesday (Digital Transactions News, Oct. 12),
Goldstone’s estimate of the daily tab for interchange includes both credit and debit card fees, he says. Debit card interchange alone is estimated to represent about $15 billion in annual income for financial institutions. TCF, which is a prominent debit card issuer but has no credit card portfolio, estimates Dodd-Frank will cut its annual interchange income from $102 million to $20 million. While Visa and MasterCard set interchange rates, interchange income flows to card-issuing banks. It is paid by merchant acquirers, which then pass the cost on to merchants as part of the discount fee merchants pay on each transaction.
Former Visa president seeks new opportunities in financial services – The Term Sheet: Fortune’s deals blogOctober 13, 2010
Hans Morris, former president of Visa Inc. (V), has joined private equity firm General Atlantic as a managing director and head of financial services investing. He previously had served as a special advisor to the firm.
Paying $2,000 a month on “swipe fees” to credit card companies, House of Hanson owner Laurel Bauer said it can be expensive for the Dinkytown grocery store to accept payments via credit and debit cards
The Justice Department’s complaint is that American Express, Visa and MasterCard have put rules in place that prevent merchants from offering consumer discounts, rewards and information about card costs to induce them to choose another payment method. Visa and MasterCard have filed a proposed settlement to the charges that a court will have to approve. American Express had not yet filed a response to the charges, but a statement from the card brand indicated it intends to fight the charges in court.