Antitrust Settlement: More Unpredictability For Credit Issuers—And Others

by Ken Paterson 0

As issuers continue to work throughtheir post CARD Act, post Durbin amendment credit card businessstrategies, perhaps the last thing they needed was another XFactor.The MasterCard/Visa settlement, while it avoided apotentially worse outcome (surcharging), added more uncertainly toissuers’ businessplanning challenges.Among the known unknowns thesettlement raises for issuers are:

·Will current pricing differences amongcard brands result in a clear favorite among merchants?Couldsubsequent inter-brand competition create a favorite (at theexpense of interchange)?

·Will the current interchangedifferences between non-rewards and rewards cards be sufficient formerchants to incent a preference?Will rewards cards need to uptheir ante to ensure consumers continue to use them?

·Will merchant discounting furtherdis-incent consumers from tapping their available credit, alreadydepressed under the recessionary effects of consumerdeleveraging?

  • The flip side is that merchants now have their own businessplanning to do – to figure out which combinations of incentives,favored card types, favored card brand, card minimums, and favoredtender types make economic sense without jeopardizingsales.Merchants have gained greater control over card acceptanceterms, and will need to figure out how to advantageously wield thatcontrol.

The final arbiter, of course, willbe the cardholder, who may be legitimately confused when presentedwith his or her options by issuers and merchants.”Should I pay withmy rewards credit card offering me 1 percent cash back and purchaseprotection and an APR of 17 percent, or should I use a Brand Zdebit card and get a 2 percent discount from the retailer?”

“Maybe I don’t need to buy thisafter all…”

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