Much like today, merchants were attempting to limit processing fees at a time of high unemployment and lackluster holiday sales. Online sales were on track to generate billions in revenue, the major card issuers continued to wrangle in court over fees, and the ETA was preparing to move to the nation's capital.
With unemployment at an eight-year high of 6 percent, and same-store sales in November and December 2002 up just 0.5 percent, merchants were reeling from the worst performance since 1970, when tracking of same-store sales began. However, online spending rang up $13.8 billion, 28 percent more than the $10.8 billion spent online the previous holiday season.
A protracted lawsuit between Visa Inc. and MasterCard Worldwide and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and millions of retailers, scheduled for trial April 28, 2003, found the two sides in court Jan. 13 for a summary judgment hearing to discuss allegations the card companies violated antitrust laws by forcing merchants to accept more costly offline debit cards.
The Electronic Transactions Association made a bold decision to relocate to Washington, D.C., after its office lease in Kansas City, Mo., expired at the end of June. "Washington was selected because it will give the association better access to government officials, policymakers and high-caliber job applicants," said Mary Gerdts, ETA President at the time.
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