Friday, August 05, 2005

Credit Card Competition Decimated by Recent Bank Acquisitions (commentary:

Big getting bigger: One of the last independent credit card issuers sold

(Irvine, CA) August 8, 2005 -- As HSBC Holdings PLC, the large British-based bank is preparing to acquire Metris Companies Inc., an independent credit card issuer, consumers and merchants are poised to feel the affects from this further consolidation within the industry.

With Bank of America's planned acquisition of MBNA and Washington Mutual buying Providian Financial Corp, this new deal substantially lessens competition. The HSBC Finance acquisition will further shrink what is a rapidly consolidating market.

"The impact of these transactions can further ravage retailers and consumers," warned Mitch Goldstone, co-editor of the Credit Card Interchange Blog: and lead plaintiff in the interchange price-fixing litigation against Visa, MasterCard and member banks. "As the remaining credit card issuers are sold off, this added competitive threat can result in further horizontal fixing of credit card interchange fees with unbridled market power. This acquisition also reinforces the validity for our interchange antitrust litigation"