Friday, January 20, 2006

How Banks Might Plan to Attack Merchants (

What does it take to protect the banking industry's $25 billion annual merchant interchange treasure?

One caper had their allies recently writing a commentary suggesting the only solution to the interchange merchant litigation are Congress and legislative sanctuaries.

Another trick is to eclipse the fact that the banks are accused of illegally inflating credit card transaction fees by plotting to unload MasterCard's liabilities through a stock sale early this year. The Credit Card Interchange Report - maintains this strategy could fail as investors are educated on and thwart this chancy scheme.

Beyond patronizing political support and stock sales, expect the banks to continue working closely in 2006 with an arsenal of corporate advocacy groups. To better characterize the types of resources available to Visa and MasterCard, the following is an overview of resources they may use in an attempt to safeguard their fleeting grip on retailers and consumers.

While omitting the company names, these profiles are representative of the types of organizations available to the banks to protect their interests. Although not implying any specific involvement, these corporate profiles come directly from various websites to better help merchants and consumers know what we are up against. [We are in no way suggesting any of the below unidentified companies are connected with the banks - even though some do promote banks as clients on their websites.]

Profiles of Various Corporate Services Available to the Banks
COMPANY A: - Marketing intelligence company that analyzes and distills the opinions and perceptions of the online world. Scans blogs, message boards, opinion sites and other public forums. Processes the info and prepares actionable market insights about companies, products, people and issues. Enables clients to understand the opinions, perceptions, attitudes and behaviors of consumers, capturing and analyzing topics and issues of most importance to them. In the online community, consumers speak in the context of their lives, and how their lives interact with your brands and products. Most important, it's unprompted, unsolicited and timely.

COMPANY B: - Earned media is a necessary component of successful marketing. The results are predictable. It generates the headlines and appearances, while others struggle to establish their identity. This company specializes in getting media coverage and works with some of the world's largest corporations. From campaign design and strategic development to tactical implementation, tasks include issues management, consumer education and legislative support. They manage media relations, arrange media tours, work with the press at the courthouse each day during litigation, work with editorial boards around the nation, produce multimedia press kits on CD. Their "consumer education efforts," result in getting the clients message integrated within national media stories. This company's client list is a who's-who of staunch conservative Republican causes and is reported to be run by former Pat Buchanan communications director Greg Mueller. Recently they held a press conference supporting Supreme Court nominee John Roberts' confirmation and even helped promote "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" during the 2004 presidential campaign.

COMPANY C: - This law firm provides clients with experience and advice in virtually every discipline of the law. They coordinate multifaceted teams in negotiation, dispute resolution and transactions. With lawyers in the United States, Europe and Asia, and extensive practices in Africa and South America, they can respond knowledgeably, effectively and quickly, whether the issue is local, regional, national or international. Their lawyers speak more than a dozen languages and are familiar with international business customs.

COMPANY D: - This management consultancy firm delivers tailored solutions to international organizations seeking to achieve their strategic goals through effective leadership and management of their human capital worldwide This organization uses surveys to collect data on a wide range of organizational issues to support effective planning and decision-making.

COMPANY E - This economics consulting firm specializing in financial and economic analysis of policy, regulatory, and litigation matters for corporations, governments and public-sector entities in the United States and worldwide. They combine the expertise and practices of its staff with research and support capabilities on a wide range of antitrust, regulatory and economic policy matters. The firm has experience in academics, senior government positions, and consultancies with analytical capabilities, testifying and advisory experience, and a thorough understanding of how governments operate. Its directors have been engaged by private parties from small businesses to multi-national Fortune 500 companies, and by local, national and international public-sector organizations.

COMPANY F - This information management company reviews competitors and analyzes information, like this website. They try uncovering the challenges businesses face to help make "fact-based decisions." This includes identifying pertinent issues that will impact their clients with reactive facts to stay ahead of the competition. From their website they explain a client profile: "The management team is becoming increasingly frustrated because it cannot accurately anticipate key issues that are impacting the company's business. The organization feels it is always reactive, communicating after the facts and is unsure of what to say. They need fact-based answers and need to be warned in advance."

COMPANY G - Business and Politics are closely commected at this bipartisan public affairs firm which works closely with "a wide range of Fortune 500, trade association, political campaign, and nonprofit clients to mobilize and motivate their stakeholders." Their website explains that their "team of professionals brings experience from a bipartisan range of some of the most successful grassroots movements in American history, including, the NRA, the Draft Wesley Clark movement, and the Christian Coalition. Working together, they combine cutting-edge technology with established communications practices to create campaigns that are incredibly cost effective and make an impact. They specialize in "merging online advocacy technology with communications strategy to recruit, educate and mobilize client stakeholder networks. Our programs help clients shape public opinion, build and strengthen relationships with key stakeholder groups ... and generate outreach from stakeholders to key decision makers and the media to advance their public affairs agenda."