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FOSTER CITY, Calif. -- Visa USA, the nation's leading payment brand and largest payment system, published its current U.S. interchange rates yesterday on its Web site, www.visa.com. The information, which was previously only available to its issuers and acquirers, is now public information for all interested parties. Included on the Web site are specific interchange rates that apply to various types of Visa transactions.
"Being more open about how we operate as a company helps to foster and expand our working relationships with new and existing partners and other parties who seek to better understand our business," said Rhonda Bentz, vice president of Visa USA. "By posting our 'wholesale' rates, Visa USA is providing more clarity into the Visa system than is seen in any other retail environment."
Interchange rates are fees that are assessed to a merchant's bank every time a consumer uses the card when making a purchase. The rates are extremely competitive, the company said, and are usually reinvested into the credit card system to support cardholder benefits such as rewards and fraud monitoring technologies. It added in a statement that the retailers do not pay the wholesale Visa interchange rate, but rather negotiate their cost with their bank, which is known as a "merchant discount."
The rising cost of credit card interchange rates was cited by many c-store retailers as their most pressing problem. NACS, the Association for Convenience and Petroleum Retailing, has taken a leadership role among several other retail associations in efforts to lower these fees charged to retailers. Those efforts have included class-action lawsuits and lobbying before Congress.
"Today's announcement is consistent with our ongoing efforts to provide greater clarity about our business," Bentz said. Previously, the company provided its operating regulations to qualified U.S. merchants and third party agents, as well as the named independent directors to the board who will make core economic decisions for the company, she added. "We seek to offer our members, merchants and cardholders with superior value by being the most trusted, secure and convenient way to pay worldwide. We believe the value Visa delivers to merchants is a key reason why Visa USA has increased the number of businesses who accept our cards to over six million locations," Bentz said.
While Visa's move adds much-called-for transparency into the existing rate structure, it's likely to have little effect on retailers' bottom line.
Through Visa's 13,369 member financial institutions, more than 500 million Visa-branded cards have been issued to cardholders in the United States alone. Globally, Visa cards are available in more than 150 countries, which carry more than one billion Visa-branded cards. This amounts to more than $3 trillion in annual transaction volume for the company.
To view the interchange rates on Visa's Web site, click here.