Thursday, March 23, 2006

MasterCard International Offers 'Peace of Mind,' But Still Gets Piece of Wallet (

A March 23th, Business Wire release issued by MasterCard International announced that it will offer certain cards designed for small business cardholders with new fraud protection.

The bank-owned card association announced it is "extending its zero liability policy to U.S.-issued MasterCard BusinessCard®) and Debit MasterCard BusinessCard®) cards. Beginning in September, those small business debit and cardholder customers will not be liable due to unauthorized use of their cards.

The irony is MasterCard calls this "‘peace' of mind," yet the billions in profits from unbridled merchant interchange fees paid by these very same small businesses is anything but peaceful. In one hand, the company promotes "peace of mind," yet the reality is they are demanding a piece of the wallet and a large portion at that. The U.S. interchange rates demanded by MasterCard (and Visa) are more than twice the fee charged in many other nations. And, some countries, like Canada have a zero interchange fee for PIN debit cards.

The press release explained this new "zero liability protection" was designed to help give "small business owners 'peace of mind' so they can focus on growing their business."

If MasterCard was indeed interested in helping small, emerging, mid and multinational-sized businesses with more assistance, then they would start at home by recognizing that interchange fees are an antiquated artifact which were designed decades ago when retailers used cumbersome, manual credit card imprinters and minimal technology required this once cash-based fee.