Although merchants and the card networks are often on the opposing sides of the aisle in payment litigation and lobbying, recent steps by Visa show a potentially significant change in position. In fact, Visa’s Chief Executive, Charles Scharf, has claimed publicly that Visa needs to change its often-contentious relationship with merchants.

On February 1st, Visa lifted a ban on issuer-specific acceptance arrangements for Visa credit, debit or prepaid cards. While the network still requires that merchants “honor all cards,” the rule change will allow merchants to offer discounts in association with specific co-branded or non-co-branded card products that are issued by individual banks. In a new angle on merchant-funded rewards, a merchant can work with an issuer to offer discounts to its customers who pay with that issuer’s card. The merchant would also be likely to receive financial incentives from the issuer in return for driving transaction volume to the issuer’s card(s). Today the network also identified one such issuer likely to profit in a big way from the rule change: J.P. Morgan Chase announced it has signed a letter of intent with Visa to form Chase Merchant Services.

Separate from Chase Paymentech, the major merchant acquiring organization solely owned by Chase, Chase Merchant Services will operate as an acquiring and payments services partnership with Visa and the VisaNet platform. In its investor conference, Chase indicated this partnership will enable it to negotiate pricing and operating standards with merchants and support targeted, data driven offers and merchant-specific discounts. The VisaNet connection also indicates a potential benefit to Visa and Chase, as this network enables merchants the ability to process PIN debit transactions over the network’s signature debit network. A single network routing focus is  likely to be encouraged by specific pricing incentives to merchants. In the end, it works out nicely for everyone....

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About Beth Robertson

Beth Robertson, CCM, is a Senior Consultant in Javelin's Payments practice area. With nearly 30 years of experience in financial services, Beth works with clients to gain strategic insights into payment trends, including evolving services and strategies, implications for ACH, and exploring alternative payment systems.

Beth’s prior experience includes:

  • Partner and Managing Director of Camino Consulting, advising clients on a wide array of payments services, including enterprise payment services and strategy, delivery channels, and related financial service industry initiatives such as business strategy, product positioning, and market entry;
  • Senior Manager at First Annapolis Consulting, Inc., advising leading financial services institutions and vendors about payments services, positioning, and strategy;
  • Business Director for Banking and Payments, as well as Research Director in the Global Payments Practice at TowerGroup, focusing on traditional, online, and alternative payment services and on fraud detection and risk management in the online channel;
  • PSI Global, Vice President and Manager of the Billing and Payments Research Practice; Consulting Director, managing major research and consulting projects focused on payments services and online delivery;
  • Various management roles at Exxon Company USA, Trans Data Corporation, and at Maryland National Bank.

Beth has delivered numerous executive presentations for clients and at major financial services industry conferences and has been quoted in many news services and journals, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, CBS Marketwatch, National Public Radio, American Banker, CNN.com, and Banking Strategies magazine. She previously served on the Steering Committee and as Chair of NACHA’s Council for Electronic Billing and Payment.

Beth received an M.B.A. from Salisbury University and holds a B.A. degree in Economics and Business Administration from McDaniel College. She is a permanently certified cash manager (CCM), receiving her accreditation from the Association of Financial Professionals in 1986.

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