Wednesday, December 06, 2006

"Dreamgirls" Dream-on (

Not sure if our international readers will understand this, but, in the States, the biggest theatrical release this holiday season will be Dreamgirls. Within the next few weeks all the buzz will be swarming around this film. The story is about the price people pay for fame. We only hope they are not charging it to reach their glory because the dream can become a nightmare.

Earlier today we read a commentary [
Albany Times Union] about how "interchange fees are transparent to merchants." Just the headline seemed to be wishful thinking.


Merchants and cardholders have little or no idea that this is a $30 billion dollar windfall that the banks and the two leading card associations have been controlling for decades. If they want "transparency"
post the exact charge on every cardholders receipt.

The head of this one-year old advocacy group [supported by the banks, payment card networks - (i.e. Visa & MastercCard?) and their trade associations]
explained that "merchants receive extraordinary benefits from accepting electronic payments." This might have been news if the commentary was authored by a retailer, but, by their Washington, D.C. policy and advocacy tool. And for all that money, we would have thought Mr. Madigan could have garnered greater pickup for his "commentary" than having it appear in an Albany, NY paper.

We wonder whether a similar editorial was published in the late 1800's when the railroad cartel forced farmers to pay whatever rates they imposed for the benefits derived from transporting their goods to market. Without the railroads carrying their goods to market they would have been out of business - the produce would have rotted.

Today, Visa® and MasterCard® control a staggering 80% monopolistic share of the electronic payment market. Their market power parallels the characteristics of the railroads which also stood accused of forcing secret price agreements to control their market.

Fast forward to today: because we have been invited to address the
International Consumer Electronics Show next month in Las Vegas, we think this forum [the largest trade show in the U.S.] will be an ideal venue to learn just how transparent interchange fees are. January 9th and our panel discussion boasts an ideal opportunity to spotlight why retailers and consumers are battling Visa and MasterCard.