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Table of Contents

Lead Story

Diversification versus specialization: Which is better?

News

Industry Update

NetBank bubble bursts over mortgage loans

Feds propose rules on Internet gambling

Merchants give Congress their take on interchange

Kinks at the QSR drive-thru

Is the PCI DSS pie in the sky? The NRF's Hogan wants to know

Ontario nixes 'use it or lose it' gift cards

Features

The skinny on trade associations

U.K. banks push contactless tech, despite consumer demand for cash

Ron Delnevo
Bank Machine Ltd.

Views

The assault on interchange widens

Patti Murphy
The Takoma Group

Coping with the credit crunch

Biff Matthews
CardWare International

Clichés, monsters and a dog named Spot

Education

Street SmartsSM:
Next stop: Tradeshows

Dee Karawadra
Impact PaySystem

Using e-mail effectively: Managing lists

Nancy Drexler
Marketing Moguls

Don't let security slide

Steve Schwimmer
Renaissance Merchant Services

PCI DSS implementation: A concise review

Robert Heinrich
Alpha Card Services Inc.

Dam spam with secure e-mail

Michael Petitti
Trustwave

The next ISO widow could be yours

Adam Atlas
Attorney at Law

Company Profile

Comstar Interactive

New Products

PIN protection for online purchases

PIN Debit Service
ATM Direct

A payment plug-in quick as a hare

Skipjack Payment Plug-in
Skipjack Financial Services, Inc.

Inspiration

Optimism is an inside job

Miscellaneous

POScript

Departments

Forum

Resource Guide

Datebook

A Bigger Thing

The Green Sheet Online Edition

October 22, 2007  •  Issue 07:10:02

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Merchants give Congress their take on interchange

On Oct. 1, 2007, the Merchant Payments Coalition, a group of merchant trade associations, delivered to Congress a detailed report on interchange. It was in response to questions posed by Rep. Ric Keller, R-Fla., at a hearing on July 19, 2007.

At that hearing, MPC Chairman Mallory Duncan claimed that the manner in which Visa Inc. and MasterCard Worldwide establish interchange rates and rules is in violation of U.S. antitrust laws.

Duncan, who is also Senior Vice President and General Counsel at the National Retail Federation, said that interchange fees charged by the two top card Associations cost merchants and consumers $40 billion a year.

In response, Rep. Keller asked questions, which prompted the MPC report to Congress. The MPC alleged the following in its report:

· Visa and MasterCard keep their operating rules a secret from Congress and the public, including the retailers that use their services.

· Although by federal law Visa and MasterCard cannot prevent merchants from offering their customers discounts for paying in cash, the card networks' rules governing cash discounts are confusing, and enforcement is sometimes aggressive, making it difficult for merchants to give such discounts to customers.

· Visa and MasterCard say that merchants are permitted to negotiate with them for the lowest possible interchange rates, but in reality the rates are set by the card Associations and the issuing banks, and merchants are out of the loop.

· Despite what Visa and MasterCard might say, merchants receive no benefits from interchange fees.

· Visa and MasterCard's claims that merchants advocate price controls set by the federal government are false.

· Merchants do not have the freedom to pick which Visa and MasterCard products they accept at their businesses, so they cannot disallow cards that carry high interchange rates, such as commercial cards.

At the July 19 Antitrust Task Force hearing, Duncan said Visa and MasterCard "continue to keep their illegal behavior out of the spotlight and, they hope, cut off discussion before Congress learns too much about what they have been doing. Suffice it to say that there are a broad range of legislative solutions - both within and outside this Committee's jurisdiction - that could improve on the current system."

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.

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