Sunday, January 01, 2006

2006 Begins With Even Less Credit Card Competition (

Among the biggest financial news stories during 2006 will be the illegal, inflated credit card interchange transaction fees charged by credit card issuers. This case affects all merchants, consumers and pits the banks against its two core customer bases.

The Credit Card Interchange Report - will expand its coverage due to the nearly daily updates on this multi-billion antitrust litigation. Even though there has been a further consolidation within the credit card issuing business, the news and issues circling this enormous issue continues to balloon.

With Bank of America's acquisition of MBNA, there are now just five giant credit card issuers. Combined, they control nearly 3/4 of all the business. The irony is that even as Bank of America doubles the size of its credit card business, and their cost to process accounts will be scaled down, retailers are poised to face huge new merchant interchange fees.

With Bank of America completing its $34 billion acquisition of MBNA, the result also means an immediate reduction of credit card competition and forecasts for even more oppressive merchant interchange fees. The combined valuation means that Bank of America is now the country's largest credit card issuer.

During the next few weeks, The Credit Card Interchange Report - will begin profiling weekly "Interchange Horror Stories." The goal is to draw additional attention to this $25 billion annual hidden consumer tax. With this latest acquisition, we anticipate drawing more attention and fodder from Bank of America's new role as lead purveyor of illegal price-fixing of merchant interchange fees.