Thursday, August 02, 2007

Interchange complaints are just a call for lower merchant fees..?

Here's an interesting article on the Javelin Strategy and Research site. It ends with the open remark that all the fuss about interchange payments, made by retailers could be merely those groups posturing for lower fees by whining about high charges for merchants and disruptive interbank agreements.

Now, if indeed all this hidden tax for merchants, interbank agreements and huge profit would be so terrible to retailers, why dont't they set up a retailer based card scheme....? Because in the end accepting payment with cards in a shop is a make or buy decision.

If you don't like the brands and fees out there, just do it better yourself. And then, when the argument comes that it would be impossible to reach all consumers with your single retailer card, or that it would become a messy world if each retailer would issue its own card: well, that would make one really understand what it is exactly that you as a retailer are paying for, when you decide to go along with bank issued cards.

Banks have solved a complex cooperation, coordination and reachability problem in the cards-space and do not just use their expertise for themselves (by limiting the interbank card usage to ATM withdrawals) but also allow their consumers/merchants the benefit of using that same card for paying in the shop. But then, when push comes to shove, all the users can do is be unhappy with the pricing (as if anything in the world would need to be provided for free).

So indeed, I would agree with the Javelin remark. It is high time for either a retailer based third card scheme in Europe or a more modest and less agressive approach by retailer lobby organisations.