Thursday, April 06, 2006

Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock, The Clock Is Closing In On The Banks (

In thinking of what must be an endless number of billable hours charged by the banks' legal and advocacy groups for analyzing each entry, this one is sure to yield lots more.

We are gaining confidence that the unbridled power once welded by the banks which own Visa® and MasterCard® is waning fast. Why? Just look at the pattern of previously unstoppable spikes to their interchange fees.

What seemed like a sure thing once or twice each year, has now generated such scrutiny that we may have actually shamed the member banks to recognize what we have known for years. The fees they set by agreement are too high. As Visa's® board prepares to meet, is betting there will again be no hike to interchange fees. After all, how could they after commentaries like "
Moore's Law?"

Is this just an intermission to an otherwise out-of-control pattern of rate increases? Are the banks lack of fee increases hurting their bottom line? Hardly, just look at their double-digit earnings. Does this mean that the millions of merchants and all consumers have won the interchange battle? Not yet, but we are getting close.

But, even with a cessation of rate increases and what we anticipate will be a cancellation of MasterCard's® IPO, the banks once coercive grip on retailers is slipping away. We are watching the clock on MasterCard's® planned 2nd quarter IPO. Prior to June 30th was when MasterCard® had planned to shift their liabilities onto the public. As the clock counts down, we are ready to share a retailers prospective with the media and broadcast why the deal might not materialize.

Even though it seems that interchange fee increases are slowing, our multi-billion dollar antitrust litigation does deal with their alleged past price-fixing for more than a decade. So, a kinder, more appeasing Visa® and MasterCard® association may be comforting, but they are still being accused of illegal activities and recovery of damages are being sought dating back years.