Retailers Lobby Congress To Fight Card “Cartel”

Last week, the Merchants Payments Coalition (MPC), which represents major retailers, hosted a box-lunch presentation to alert legislators about promising cost-saving technologies and the importance of doing them no harm.  According to reports, the rapidly approaching beginning of the heavily Republican 114th Congress has some retailers concerns.  Specifically, the worry is that forthcoming reform of the Dodd-Frank financial reforms regarding provisions credit-card companies could leave them permanently controled by what they are calling the card “cartel.”

Particularly perceived as at risk are emerging technically backed mobile wallet that could could disrupt card-networks nearly insurmountable advantages in payment processing.

Emerging players highlighted by the Merchants Payments Coalition were well known players such as Apple and Google Wallet, and CurrentC.  Less well known possible future entrants were also presented–such as SEQR, a Swedish mobile wallet that is poised to launch in the U.S. that promises transaction fees lowered by as much as 50 percent.  Also highlighted were digital currency backed BitMint–which sells consumers fixed value virtual currency which can be used like cash from any smartphone.

Retailers further brought to their box lunch the long held grievance that the EMV upgrade and the  complain that the standards that accompany them were written in a way that preserves the fees the credit-card networks collect for processing customer signatures, when PIN numbers (as are used widely globally) would have saved merchants some money.

MPC ascribes this to a firm wish on the part of card networks to preserve their revenue and payments dominance, a wish they are willing to support with campaign money spread around on the Hill.

One box lunch at a time, the merchants are determined to push back.