Saturday, January 07, 2006

Banks' Silence is Deafening (

With nearly 200 unique postings and daily visits recorded from around the globe, including from the Federal Reserve in the U.S. and international equivalents, The Credit Card Interchange Report - WayTooHigh is among the first daily chroniclers of this multi-billion dollar issue.

As major banks, along with the two credit card associations which they own and control (Visa and MasterCard) regularly visit this site, a growing question is why has their silence been so deafening? They know the issues and they have read the postings. Yet, their silence is further distancing themselves from their two primary customers - merchants and consumer cardholders.

Even the media visitors to this site have questioned several issues we have addressed. They too don't know if the new American Express-branded bank cards will incur the traditionally higher interchange fees. Another recent question: why will spectators to the Winter Olympics in Italy face merchant interchange fees that are nearly half the rate charged in the United States?*

Retailers are asking questions. Consumers are demanding answers. The media too continues to also largely face a silent, non-response from the banks.

As well-known entrepreneurs and business leaders, the co-editors of The Credit Card Interchange Report - also knows how the game of multinational public relations works. Don't respond. Stay silent. Hope the noise and focus fragments.

Conversely, the questions against the banks continue to mount and go unanswered. Retailers want to understand why the collusive, anti-competitive, price-fixing claims continue to impair this vital payment system while other nations have successfully addressed and are resolving the problems.

Just as films like "The China Syndrome" in the late 1970s, "Wall Street" in the 1980s and "Erin Brockovich" in the 1990s drew attention to corporate greed, so too will The Credit Card Interchange Report -

In the case of American hero, Erin Brockovich, she had the power and human spirit to battle a regional adversary. The difference is this time the credit card interchange fight blankets the entire nation. It affects all retailers and all consumers. Even a single-mother raising her children in an inner-city is affected. When she buys milk at a corner convenience store, her cash payment is actually helping to subsidize the premium Signature Visa cardholders' frequent flyer mileage accruals.

The battle is larger than Erin Brockovich faced, yet the adversaries remain largely silent. The defendants in this litigation stand acused of violations and illegal activities, including of the Sherman Antitrust Act.

The real-life story of Erin Brockovich took place before the Internet, before blogs and other high-tech forms of online activism. While Ms. Brockovich had to walk door to door, the co-editors of just press a few buttons and instantly are read by many, including the banks, their affiliates following this site, consumers and other interested parties across the nation and abroad.

Like Ms. Brockovich's triumph over insurmountable odds, The Credit Card Interchange Report - remains confident that with more transparency, daily updates and increased understanding this battle too will quickly lead to a victory for every consumer and every retailer - even if the banks deafening silence hopes we just go away.


* (source, NACS Magazine, July 2005, "Cards Costs" 2004, MPC)