Faster payments’ public option will harm competition 

In PaymentsSource I argue the Fed shouldn’t enter the real-time interbank payments market.  The fast-developing faster-interbank payments market is already served by TCH, Visa, Mastercard, FIS, Fiserv and EWS.  Worryingly the Fed will be competing with entities it regulates. It will be competing with the private sector, which it should only do if that’s the only way to ensure a competitive market.   And the central bank competing in faster payments will deter and suppress private-sector payments competition and innovation.  Perhaps most worrisome, the Fed isn’t independent.  Congress is supposed to be its master. The legislature however abdicated its prerogative and contented itself with the Fed briefing it on what it plans to do.

Federal Reserve has no business becoming a climate change partisan

The San Francisco Fed has started socializing introducing climate-change considerations into financial regulation. In the Las Vegas Review-Journal I contend this is an extraordinarily dangerous idea that is outside the Fed’s mandate and would cause enormous economic harm. It should be smothered in the crib.

Here’s why the Fed should stay out of real-time payments

In Digital Transactions I make the case that the Fed should’t enter the burgeoning real-time payments market. There are already a handful of private-sector competitors to ensure a vigorously competitive and innovative market. The central bank shouldn’t compete with the private sector except if it’s participation were the only way to prevent a monopoly.

Facebook’s Cryptocurrency Libra Provokes a Firestorm on Capitol Hill

In the July, 2019 issue of POSitivity discusses the promise of Facebook’s proposed stablecoin and payment system Libra, and challenges it faces running the regulatory gauntlet and finding a path(s) to network critical mass.

India’s payments favoritism is hurting innovation

In PaymentsSource discusses Indian finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s recent proposal that the RBI and banks “absorb” the costs of providing a range of electronic payments.

Why Visa and Mastercard Have Been on a Buying Spree

In Digital Transactions discusses globally dominant payment networks Mastercard’s and Visa’s use of acquisitions to expand their addressable markets en route to trillion dollar market caps.

EU regulators are overstepping with non-EU card fee caps

There’s a curious mercantalist asymmetry to the European Commission in April jawboning Mastercard and Visa to lower interchange fees on credit and debit cards used inside the EEA but issued elsewhere. In the May 16, 2019 PaymentsSource I discuss.

Facebook’s crypto would be a payments and ad machine

Facebook appears to be on the brink of launching a stablecoin-based payment system. While building critical mass in payment systems is notoriously difficult, with 2.3 billion users and ample resources, the social-media Gargantua would appear to have the reach and heft to give it a go. In the May 9, 2019 PaymentsSource I comment.

Putting sunlight on currency-conversion fees to protect consumers

While it could and should have gone further, I applaud the EU’s effort to enhance currency-conversion fee disclosures.

Virtue-signaling banks hurt shareholders and customers

In the April 29, 2019 American Banker I decry management of major banks and payments companies engaging in virtue-signaling rather than zealously tending to their businesses.

Complex consolidation won’t save payment incumbents from fintechs

In the April 2, 2019 PaymentsSource discuss the rationales for FIS’s  acquisition of leading merchant acquirer Worldpay and Fiserv’s acquisition of the world’s largest payment processor First Data, and touted cost and revenue synergies.

EU should focus more on innovation than intervention

In the March 14, 2019 PaymentsSource criticizes the EU’s penchant for directing payments markets and attempts to create EU champions.

The Original Too-Big-to-Fail Bank

February 22, 2019 in Citi Journal reviews James Freeman’s and Vern McKinley’s Borrowed Time, which vividly recounts the storied bank’s history from financial Rock of Gibraltar to a politicized bank repeatedly bailed out by the government.

More often than not, political battles harm payments

In the February 15, 2019 PaymentsSource decries politics’ generally harmful impact on payments markets and consequently on consumers, merchants and banks.

The Fundamentals Still Apply

In the February, 2019 issue of Digital Transactions discusses the wave of putatively disruptive fintechs and five promising payments ventures – Beyond, Marqeta, Modopay, RS2 North America, and Veem, that solve real customer problems and employ time-tested business models.

The First Data/Fiserv combo is bigger, but still slow

In the January 24, 2019 PaymentsSource discuss the rationale for Fiserv’s acquisition of the world’s biggest payments processor First Data and touted cost and revenue synergies.

Real-time payments need more competition

In the American Banker discusses the Fed’s socializing entering the real-time interbank payments market and the possibility and value of more private-sector competition there.

Escapes from death’s door

In the Washington Times reviews Borrowed Time in which James Freeman and Vern McKinley tell iconic Citi’s story from the War of 1812 through the financial crisis – the good, the bad and the ugly.

EU should help payments markets work better

In the November issue of POSitivity argues that the EU should mandate more robust disclosure of foreign currency conversion options’ costs when cardholders use their cards abroad at merchants and ATMs, and that to improve intra-EU cross-border payments mandating banks offer at least two providers would be a better approach to improving the market than price controls.

When Collaboration Makes Sense – And When It Doesn’t

In the October issue of Digital Transactions discusses the merits of open and closed payment networks and the increased networks’ willingness to collaborate and interoperate to extend reach and build network mass and therefore relevance..

An analysis over EU’s proposal on cross-border payments regulation

Discusses the EU’s proposal to improve Dynamic Currency Conversion disclosures at the pos and ATMs.

Yes, Mulvaney’s strategic plan would shackle CFPB – as it should

In the American Banker applaud Acting Director Mick Mulvaney’s proposal that major CFPB rules be subject to congressional approval.

How to avoid being gouged when traveling

In the Washington Times discusses exorbitant fees travelers abroad are exposed to when paying with credit cards and when merchants offer consumers the option to pay in their native currency urges global networks Mastercard and Visa to require full disclosure of the costs of paying in the local and cardholder’s home currencies.

Why foreign exchange fees for credit cards need to be curbed

In Banking Strategies Magazine urges Mastercard and Visa to take a cue from the European Commission and mandate when Dynamic Currency Conversion is offered by a merchant or ATM on their products, that the costs of paying in the local and cardholder’s currencies be fully disclosed side-by-side.

Adyen and the New Age of Global Payments Processing – Part II

In Digital Transactions discuss Dutch payment-processing Phenom Adyen.

Adyen and the New Age of Global Payments Processing – Part I

In Digital Transactions discuss Dutch payment-processing Phenom Adyen.

Return to sender: Here’s what’s wrong with postal banking

In the American Banker decries Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s proposal that the US Post Office provide consumer credit, debit cards and other banking services.

Mastercard and Visa should eliminate Dynamic Currency Conversion

In PaymentsSource urges the two global retail-payment networks Mastercard and Visa to curb Dynamic Currency Conversion.

Has Trump tamed the CFPB?

In Digital Transactions I discuss the Trump administration’s impact on the CFPB thus far. Acting Director Mick Mulvaney has reined in a lawless and politicized CFPB. The Bureau however hasn’t been institutionally checked by courts or legislatively restrained.

Mick Mulvaney has ignited a firestorm to rein in the CFPB

In the Hill I discuss Acting Director Mick Mulvaney curbing an absolutist CFPB and thereby provoking the Left’s Furies.

The Fed’s promoting modest inflation is bad policy and at odds with its statutory mandate

No institution has as much influence over price levels as the Federal Reserve Board of Governors—which also acts as the country’s paramount financial regulator. Present and expected future price levels undergird every economic decision: to extend credit, borrow, save, invest and consume.  In Banking Strategies Magazine I decry the central bank targeting 2% inflation – a doubling of the price level every 35 years, and Congress turning a blind eye.

Federal Reserve thumbs nose at Congress yet again on inflation

In targeting 2 percent inflation, the Fed is flouting its statutory mandate to promote stable prices. Prices doubling every 35 years aren’t stable. Stable means zero inflation. Nobody would say a boxer whose weight increased 2 percent every year had stable weight. On top of being lawless promoting modest inflation is bad policy. In the Hill I discuss.

EC funds are not the way to spur venture capital and innovation in the EU

In I contend EC funding would inevitably politicize venture capital and that the path to spurring venture capital and innovation within the EU is to create regulatory and tax conditions more favorable for venture capital and private enterprise.

The Case for Alternative Currencies

In Citi Journal I review monetary economist George Selgin’s book Money Free and Unfree in which he makes a cogent case that free banking and currency competition and decries the Fed’s performance.  Largely private monetary arrangements have worked in the in the past in Scotland, Canada and the U.S. Scotland in the 18th and first half of the 19th century was the golden age of banking innovation where lightly-regulated banks issued currency and policed each other.

Adyen’s omnichannel model positions it well in the tough acquiring space

In PaymentsSource I discuss Dutch payments unicorn Adyen, its distinctive model, explosive growth and prospects.

India’s exploding payments market: When electronic goes electric and eclectic

In Banking Strategies Magazine I discuss the fast-evolving, open and in-play Indian payments market.  Traditional card networks Mastercard, Visa and Rupay, tech behemoths such as Google, digital-wallet-anchored payment networks like Paytm, mobile network operators, the Chinese fintech giants, and a range of nontraditional payment systems, are in the competitive mix.  Growth is explosive. In September yoy debit transactions increased 112%. In October UPI transactions increased 148% over the prior month.

Regulators say they promote innovation, but the opposite is true

In the American Banker I contend there’s a Laffer Curve of financial-services and payments innovation. More regulation, more regulators and more regulatory uncertainty inhibit innovation. Regulators setting up “sand boxes” in which they exempt approved fintechs from regulations testifies to the problem.

TSYS’ diversification moves have more upside – Intrepid’s Grover

In PaymentsSource I discuss the good, the bad and the ugly of industrial-strength processor Total Systems’ expansion overseas and of its product suite, and the disturbing departure of Pam Joseph who was widely believed to be inline to succeed CEO Troy Woods.

India’s open payments competition can spread to other markets

In PaymentsSource I discuss the epic developing struggle in the mother of all emerging payments markets between Chinese payments fintech giants Ant Financial and Tecent competing through Indian proxies, global tech titans Facebook and Google, MNOs, and traditional payment networks including Mastercard, Visa and Indian national champion Rupay.

The Meaning of PSD2

In the October, 2017 issue of Digital Transactions I discuss the implications of the EU’s Payment Services Directive 2 on the existing payments ecosystem.

The evolution of money and its delivery systems

I review David Birch’s Before Babylon, Beyond Bitcoin.

China’s payments giants will struggle to reach international markets

In PaymentsSource I discuss Chinese payments dragons Alipay’s, China UnionPay’s and WeChat Pay’s expansion overseas, use of merchant acquirers and processors to build acceptance,Alipay’s and WeChat Pay’s distinctive approaches, Ant Financial’s assembling a portfolio of payments assets outside China, and Alipay’s and WeChat Pay’s prospects challenging reigning traditional networks outside China, particularly in emerging markets.

Voluntary Compliance

In Citi Journal I a sound a clarion alarm over the Financial Stability Board’s call for climate-change-risk financial disclosures, contending inevitably it would raise the cost of capital for politically out-of-favor industries such as fossil fuels and cause systemic capital misallocation to politically favored industries, making the world poorer.

Banks can succeed without the Fed

In the American Banker using George Selgin’s eye-opening  Money Free and Unfree as a fulcrum I contend competition in money as in other sectors would self-police, deliver better value and be more innovative than central bank monopolies. From the tail end of the 17th century through the mid 19th century with free banking and banks issuing competing notes Scotland enjoyed the most innovative banking system in history – a banking system that had a significantly lower bank-failure rate than England, In the U.S. for much of the 19th century up until the Fed’s formation in 1913 U.S. banks issued currency and self-policed. And Canada which has enjoyed one of the most crisis-free banking systems ever, had no central bank until 1935. And private banknote issuance wasn’t banned until 1944.

Payment hubs are ‘invisible,’ but necessary for a dynamic future

In PaymentsSource I discuss the rapidly evolving payments-hub space, traditional players, new and interesting specialists, and giants such as software gorilla ACI Worldwide and MasterCard that are in excellent positions to enter from adjacent space.

Markets, not governments, should drive cash’s replacement

Cash remains the most widely used payment system on Earth. In “Markets, not government, should drive cash’s replacement in the American Banker and PaymentsSource I discuss the global commercial and government wars on cash. Commercial payment systems such as Alipay, MasterCard and Visa displace cash by offering consumers and merchants a superior value proposition. In contrast, governments seeking to reduce tax avoidance and crime, improve economic productivity, and/or enable negative interest rates to be an effective policy tool for central banks, use force.

The card fee battle makes a welcome pivot against the merchant lobby

In PaymentsSource discusses the epic and decades-old struggle between merchants and the payments industry over acceptance fees and contends the terms of debate are starting to change from a narrow focus on merchant cost to taking a more holistic view, including cardholders, of payment-system value and costs.

First Data’s debit network has unrealized potential

First Data is the world’s largest portfolio of payment processing and network assets. In PaymentsSource argues that First Data has long punched below its weight and that the sum ought to be greater than the parts. In particular, the payments behemoth leveraging its issuer and merchant relationships ought to be able to boost Star’s value proposition, share and economics, and thereby also enhance its issuer and merchant processing businesses.

So what if banks push fancy cards? Give consumers the steak they want.

In the American Banker the estimable Mallory Duncan,  general counsel of the NRF,  attacked banks for making “monopolistic fees on credit cards” and in the same breath decried reward-rich credit cards consumers love. In the Hill I take Duncan to task and applaud fierce issuer and network competition delivering reward-rich credit cards to consumers, criticize interchange price controls in the US, EU and Australia, and urge the payments industry to make a more aggressive affirmative case for the right to compete, and set interchange to maximize total value. And in the Hill I applaud issuer and network competition delivering reward-rich credit cards to consumers, decry interchange price controls in the US, EU and Australia, and urge the payments industry to make a more aggressive affirmative case for the right to compete and set interchange to maximize total value.

Negative interest rates aren’t just dangerous. They don’t work.

The Fed’s benchmark interest rate in real terms has been negative for most of the last decade and a half.  The Japanese, Swiss, Danish and Swedish central banks’ benchmark rates in nominal term are negative. Interest rates are the economy’s most important price. In the American Banker I discuss the folly of negative and artificially-low interest rates.

Look Who’s Going for Network Effects

Retail payment networks with critical mass such as MasterCard and Visa enjoy powerful network effects. In ” Look Who’s Going for Network Effects” in the March issue of Digital Transactions I discuss merchant processors’ efforts to build two-sided platforms with network effects.

Globalization’s one-way street

In the Hill I point out Ant Financial’s pending acquisition of MoneyGram -the second-largest money-transfer network in the U.S., is a forceful reminder that while the U.S. is wide-open for China’s payments dragons, the Inner Kingdom remains closed to American payment networks such as Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover, notwithstanding China’s 2001 WTO commitment to open up its domestic credit-and-debit card market.

Democrats, Too, Are Needed to Overhaul Dodd-Frank

In the American Banker I argue paramount for gutting the Dodd-Frank Act is how Republicans frame the issue. President Trump must use his bully pulpit to make the case to the American people that it’s a jobs-and-business killer, and thereby create conditions where Senate Democrats – particularly those facing tough 2018 elections – are compelled to support dismantling it, spurring job and wealth creation.

To Open China Trade, Start With Payments

Trump’s chief trade negotiator and advisers are hawks. In 2001 China made an express WTO commitment to completely open its domestic credit and debit card market by 2006. But China played the Bush and Obama administrations for saps. As of January, 2017 there still hasn’t been a single domestic MasterCard or Visa transaction in the world’s second-largest payments market. In National Review I discuss, and urge the Trump administration with China to first focus on the payments sector.

What the Age of Trump Means for Payments

In the January, 2017 Digital Transactions discusses Trump’s financial regulatory reform agenda and the prospects and implications of gutting the Dodd-Frank Act, including repeal of the Durbin Amendment and reining in the CFPB, ending Operation Choke Point, and curbing regulatory absolutism.

Where Should Trump Start on China Trade Policy? Visa and MasterCard

In the American Banker notes China has flagrantly flouted it 2001 WTO commitment to completely open up is domestic credit and debit card market. As of December, 2016 China UnionPay continues to enjoy a protected domestic card monopoly. There has not yet been a single domestic Visa, MasterCard, Amex, Discover or JCB in China. This would be an excellent sector for Trump to retaliate against trade partners not honoring their obligations. There isn’t a more black-and-white case.

Why You Shouldn’t Count on Real-Time ACH for Retail Payments

In Digital Transactions discusses the challenges harnessing real-time payments between DDAs to support retail payment systems.

The Big Financial Problem: Mandarins Making Law

In Barron’s I decry an increasingly absolutist administrative state making law and discusses how it is completely at odds with America’s tripartite constitutional system of government.

Don’t Take Tech Giants’ Payments Ambitions Lightly

In the American Banker discusses the GAFAs’ – Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon – use of and ambitions in payments to enhance their platforms and the potential impact on the payments industry and banks.

The Regulatory Effect in Faster Payments

In Banking Strategies contrasts the approaches of EU, UK and US regulators have taken encouraging faster interbank payment systems.

Governments Should Just Butt Out of Payments Competition

In the American Banker discusses global retail payment network competition and protectionism and national network champions.

Banks Are at the Mercy of Regulatory Absolutism

In the American Banker sounds an alarm over the impact of an administrative state on steroids on the financial services industry.

Reining in regulatory absolutism

In the Washington Times decries the impact of unchecked and increasingly outright lawless regulators are having on financial services availability and innovation.

What Has Durbin Done?

In Digital Transactions discusses the Durbin Amendment imposing interchange price controls, boosting the role of the administrative state and politicizing payments.

Regulators Should Cheer Faster Payments from Sidelines

In the American Banker discusses regulators’ role spurring faster interbank payments.

GOP Win in November Is First Step to Killing Dodd-Frank

In the American Banker makes the case that a GOP win in November is a necessary but not sufficient condition for rolling back or repealing the Dodd-Frank Act, which is a powerful damper on economic growth.

Contrasting Payments Innovation in Europe and the U.S.pdf

With Trust EU Affairs’ Monica Monaco discusses differences between payments innovation in Europe and the U.S. and regulation’s impact.

Let Competition Do Its Job.pdf

In the October, 2015 Digital Transactions contrasts payments innovation in the U.S. and Europe, discusses why the generally less rigid and more flexible US market has produced greater innovation, and worries about heavy-handed regulation’s cost.

Suppressing job and wealth creation – Dodd-Frank doesn’t address the cause of the financial crisis

In the Washington Times argues that to repeal the Dodd-Frank Act Joe and Sally Sixpack need to come to understand it didn’t address the cause of the financial crisis, that Dodd-Frank is stifling job, wealth and creation and, that vilified banks must make the case for enormous moral good they do.

Stifling Payments Innovation With Overregulation: Nonbanks are leading the way in payments innovation because banks are stifled with overregulation.pdf

In BAI Banking Strategies Magazine discusses why nonbanks deliver a disproportionate amount of consequential payments innovation.

What’s First Data Worth?pdf

In Digital Transactions discusses how the payments Gargantua First Data has changed as a private company, the fumbled Star-network opportunity, the imperative to ramp up international growth and IPO prospects.

First Data: Lots of Progress, But Still More to Do.pdf

In PaymentsSource discusses the mammoth payments processor First Data’s (1) assets: scale, product breadth, and multinational delivery and distribution, (2) lackluster growth, (3) lack of synergies across business lines, and (4) prospects.

Mobile Payments Remain the Endgame.pdf

In the American Banker argues that mobile payment will not disrupt but rather will enhance the existing payments ecosystem and longer term if uber-digital wallets gain massive share may reallocate economics.

Do Visa and MasterCard Have a Chance in China?pdf

A ripple of excitement coursed through Wall Street and the payments industry on news China will at long last license foreign payment-card networks to compete in its enormous domestic payments market, which grew a sizzling 52% in 2014. In the American Banker discusses why MasterCard, Visa and other foreign networks are unlikely to take meaningful share from the domestic monopolist UnionPay anytime soon.

Mobile Payments Are On Fire: Who Will (Finally) Usurp the Payments Market?pdf

Discusses the mobile payments land rush, different players’ aspirations and why it matters.

Dangers of Housing Policy ‘Hidden in Plain Sight’ No More.pdf

In the American Banker reviews Peter Wallison’s book Hidden in Plain Sight: What Really Caused the World’s Worse Financial Crisis and Why It Could Happen Again.  It’s engaging, alarming and a must-read for policy makers, the commentariat and citizens concerned about preventing another financial crisis. Wallison argues persuasively government housing policy created a tsunami of risky mortgages which caused the financial crisis and further that unless and until  the false narrative insufficient regulation and greed on Wall Street caused the crisis is debunked, genuine reform will be politically impossible.

How bad housing policies led to the financial crisis.pdf

In the Washington Times reviews Peter Wallison’s book Hidden in Plain Sight: What Really Caused the World’s Worse Financial Crisis and Why It Could Happen Again.  Wallison makes a compelling case government housing policy was the principal cause of the housing and subprime mortgage bubbles and consequent financial crisis and warns Washington is marching down the same path again.

Fed Should Tread Carefully in Faster Payments Plan.pdf

In the American Banker discusses the Fed’s proposal to shepherd the US payments industry to faster interbank payments.

Regulatory Straitjacket Will Put a Damper on Payments Innovation and Competition.pdf

In the January, 2015 issue of Positivity magazine discusses the impact of pan-European interchange price caps on payments innovation and competition, cardholder value and cash use.

A New Congress, a New Chance to Rein In the CFPB.pdf

In the American Banker argues that the CFPB should be funded by politically-accountable Congress, be supervised by a bipartisan board rather than a single unaccountable director.

The Payments Industry Should Lead the Charge in Interchange Wars.pdf

In the American Banker urges the payments industry to make an affirmative pro-consumer case for repealing the Durbin Interchange Amendment.

The Postal Service Isn’t a Bank.pdf

In National Review discusses the movement to have the U.S. Post Office provide financial services to the un and underbanked and contends inevitably it be used to politicize credit and weaken credit standards.

The CFPB’s New Prepaid Rule: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.pdf

In the January, 2015 Digital Insights discusses the CFPB’s role and the impact of its prepaid rule.

Payment trends.pdf

In an interview  with POSivity magazine comments on payments in 2015, potential technology, business model and regulatory improvements, changes in acceptance, and challenges for payments providers and merchants.

Apple Pay as Enhancer, Not Disruptor.pdf

In Banking Strategies magazine discusses Apple Pay’s prospects and impact on players across the payments value chain, and contends that while Apple embraced the existing payments ecosystem, bank issuers are likely to be the principal losers.

State of mobile payments.pdf

In an interview in Mobile Zeitgeist discusses the state of mobile payments.

Consumers are being fleeced by card currency conversion charges(*pdf)

In Euractiv decries the European Commission’s proposed rules on dynamic currency conversion as providing a safe harbor for the practice, ensuring travelers using payment cards will continue to be tricked by merchants into paying exorbitant currency-conversion fees at the point of sale.

DCC – Home or Away (*pdf)

In Cards & Payments contends dynamic currency conversion (DCC) fleeces consumers and urges the payments industry require full and meaningful disclosure at the point of sale of the cost of paying in one’s home or the local currency, which in practice would drive a stake into DCC – a service which is deceptive and a horrendous value.


‘Contemplating the Yin and Yang of Payments’ (*.pdf)

In ISO & Agent Weekly discusses innovation in payments and contrasts the positions and challenges facing much-ballyhooed Square and debt-laden processing Goliath First Data.


Stop Gouging Travelers with Dynamic Currency Conversion (*.pdf)

In American Banker lambasts dynamic currency conversion as deceptive an a horrendous value and urges the payments industry to curb it and preempt regulation.


The Sorrows of Young Bitcoin (*.pdf)

In Digital Transactions discusses the Bitcoin mania and contends that Bitcoin is unlikely to seriously threaten government fiat money or well-established retail payment and money transfer networks.


Existing Titans Will Trounce Payments Disruptors (*.pdf)

In the American Banker discusses the tsunami of innovators challenging and stressing the payments industry and contends they strengthen the system and pose little threat to reigning dominant payment systems.


How Much Regulation? It’s up to You (*.pdf)

In Digital Transactions discusses the prospects for and greatest potential threat to increased payments competition, innovation and value over the next decade.


Brussels must scrap regulatory push on card-payment transactions (*.pdf)

In Euractiv argues Europe would benefit from more dynamism, competition and innovation in payments, and that the European Parliament should reject the European Commission’s proposed retail-payment-network-interchange-price controls, which will supress competition, innovation and consumer value.


Yellen’s Policy Views Matter, Not Her Gender (*.pdf)

In the American Banker chides the editors for gushing over Janet Yellen’s gender, rather than focusing on her troubling dovish policy views.


Solving the financial crisis, by causing another (*.pdf)

In the Washington Times discusses why genuine reform of the housing-finance market is so difficult, and urges Congress to get government out of housing finance and to end the Fed’s dual mandate.


Congress Should Repeal the Durbin Amendment (*.pdf)

In the American Banker applauds Judge Richard Leon’s decision rebuking the Fed for not faithfully implementing the Durbin Amendment, arguing the regulator is the instrument of Congress not policymaker, and that it is Congress’s job not the Fed’s to fix or repeal a bad law.


Make Banks AntiFragile – Release Washington’s Stranglehold (*.pdf)

In the American Banker considers the financial crisis, policy response and increasing systemic risk through the Nassim Taleb’s AntiFragile lens, arguing Washington politicians and regulators are increasing financial-system systemic risk, and that individual financial institutions need to be free to chart their own courses, to prosper, adapt and fail.


Breaking Up Megabanks: The Lesser Evil (*.pdf)

In the American Banker contends government policies were the principal cause of the financial crisis and ongoing – indeed increasing financial system risk, and that with the current political landscape breaking up “Too-big-to-fail” financial institutions may be the only meaningful financial-system reform achievable.


Stress Points in Acquiring (*.pdf)

In Digital Transactions using Nassim Taleb’s AntiFragile framework, discusses how an unprecedented wave of new entrants and challengers will stress merchant acquiring and processing, ultimately strengthening the industry.


The Ruling Class (*.pdf)

In Barron’s argues the Dodd-Frank Act converted the US banking industry into a public utility, constipating and politicizing capital allocation and financial services innovation vitial to healthy, sustainable economic growth.


Dodd-Frank Ushers in a Corporatist Era in Banking (*.pdf)

In the American Banker discusses why financial Goliaths supported Dodd-Frank, how regulation provides a moat advantaging them against community banks and would-be challengers and innovators, and why a handful of TBTF financial institutions suits Washington.


Dodd-Frank regulations strangling economy: ‘Too big to fail’ has got to go (*.pdf)

In the Washington Times argues that there is basis for the left and right to make common cause ending TBTF financial institutions and doctrine, and restore a modcium of vigor and market discipline to the financial services industry.


Interchange Armistice? Not a Chance. (*.pdf)

In Digital Transactions discusses the longstanding struggle between retailers and the payments industry over interchange fees, the Durbin Interchange Amendment’s impact, and the proposed settlement of the consolidated interchange antitrust suit, and contends the titanic struggle between merchants and the payments industry is unlikely to end anytime soon.


CFPB’s unchecked power: New bureau’s hunt for financial scalps (*.pdf)

In the Washington Times discusses the danger or the CFPB’s enormous unfettered power and politicization of consumer credit, and argues Congress should rein it in.


Message to Europe: Get Out of the Way (*.pdf)

In Cards & Payments Insights critiques the European General Court’s rubber-stamping the EC’s ruling MasterCard’s interchange system was illegal and argues consumers would be best served if the EC let payments markets work and primarily played the role of night watchman rather than paternalistic central planner.


Bloated government shrinks the economy (*.pdf)

In the Las Vegas Review-Journal makes the case that the Obama administration’s policies have systematically suppressed economic growth, prolonging and deepening the economic malaise.


Is Financial Repression Leading America Down a Road to Ruin? (*.pdf)

In the American Banker reviews Kevin Mellyn’s Broken Markets, a compelling read discussing the causes of the financial crisis, the perils of financial repression, and the unsustainability of current fiscal and monetary policy.


Why Payments Startups Fail (*.pdf)

In Digital Transactions discusses key success criteria building retail payment systems, the range of payment networks – often well capitalized putative better mouse traps, which failed and why.


Heller’s rhetoric doesn’t match his proposals on housing, unemployment (*.pdf)

In the Las Vegas Review and Journal argues against: (1) proposals for yet more government support for housing, that Washington systematically weakening and politicizing mortgage credit standards and easy Fed credit caused the financial crisis and (2) again extending unemployment insurance, which will only boost unemployment.


There’s a lot to like about Facebook Credits (*.pdf)

In the Deal discusses how to think about valuing Facebook’s high-growth payments business and opportunity, and the enormous challenges of building retail payment networks.


Facebook Should ‘Share’ More About Plan for Payments (*.pdf)

In the American Banker discusses Facebook’s payments business’s sizzling growth, rich fees and prospects, urging management to share more about their payments ambitions.


Get the Fed out of the housing market: Break up Fannie and Freddie into pieces no longer too large to fail (*.pdf)

In the Washington Times argues Fed politicking for government propping up housing is a clarion reminder it’s time to strip the central bank of its dual mandate to pursue price stability and maximum employment, that it’s a license for mischief and price stability is consistent with maximum sustainable job and wealth creation.


From Brussels to Beijing, Regulators Block Open Payment Networks (*.pdf)

In the American Banker discusses the trend of regulators worldwide to treat retail payment networks, such as MasterCard and Visa, as public utilities, and to try to protect and nurture national champions. Contends consumers, merchants and payments innovation are best served by vigorous network competition rather than the public-utility model.


How the Merchants Could (Unintentionally) Help out the Banks (*.pdf)

In Digital Transactions discusses the Fed’s implementation of the Durbin Interchange Amendment, and why merchants have a reasonable argument and suit the Fed did not faithfully implement the law’s intent, and contends regulators flouting bad law is more dangerous than bad law.


Whose Green Stuff to Fund Green Energy? (*.pdf)

Washington lends on politics and ideology. In Barron’s argues free markets rather than government should decide how capital is invested across a broad swath of sectors including housing, energy, education and small business.


Hope Ahead for Curbing the CFPB (*.pdf)

In the American Banker decries the danger of a politically unchecked CFPB lording over consumer financial services and discusses the prospects for circumscribing its enormous powers.


We need more failure – Coddling bad decision-makers undermines our economy (*.pdf)

In the Washington Times discusses the vital role failure plays in the economy and contends government shielding individuals and firms from the consequences of bad decisions impedes economy recovery and makes society poorer.


Merchant Suit is Right, Fed Went Rogue on Durbin (*.pdf)

In the American Banker comments on the Fed’s implementation of the Durbin Interchange Amendment, arguing in trying to mitigate the legislation’s harmful effects on banks that the Fed ignored the law’s clear intent.


Bankers: Keep Up the Innovation, Fight the Utility Model (*.pdf)

In the American Banker challenges American Banker editor Andy Sobel’s urging banks to forego innovation and instead act like utilities.


Economic blowback from ‘Durbin fees’ (*.pdf)

In the Washington Times discusses why the Durbin Interchange Amendment causes higher debit card fees and a weaker debit value proposition for consumers.


Bankers Should Call Every New Charge a ‘Durbin Fee’ (*.pdf)

In the American Banker discusses the Fed’s benign (toward issuers and payment networks) final rule implementing the Durbin Interchange Amendment and urges the payments industry to work in the political arena to gut the legislation in the next Congress.


Why Payments Roles Are Blurring – And Why It Matters (*.pdf)

In Digital Transactions discusses how and why a variety of players traditionally competing in clearly defined stages in the payments value chain are vertically integrating and why it matters.


Durbin Amendment’s Gray and Not-So-Gray Areas (*.pdf)

In the American Banker discusses under what circumstances the Durbin Interchange Amendment’s interchange price cap exemption for small banks would be effective and why under a full-throated implementation (Fed’s alternative B) of the ban on debit network exclusivity and merchant-routing-choice rules it wouldn’t.


PayPal Unlikely to Escape Durbin Pain (*.pdf)

In the American Banker contends that section 1075 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (aka the Durbin Interchange Amendment) was intended to encompass alternative payment systems such as PayPal.


Dismantling overbearing financial reforms (*.pdf)

In the Washington Times decries the Dodd-Frank Wall Stret Reform and Consumer Protection Act’s enshrining too-big-to-fail, further politiicization of the Fed, and imposition of a huge regulatory burden on the consumer financial services sector, while not addressing the causes of the financial crisis. Urges Congress to dismantle Dodd-Frank Act, starting by repealing the Durbin Interchange Amendment and curbing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.


Turn the Interchange Game Around (*.pdf)

In the American Banker comments on Visa CEO Joe Saunders’s decrying the government fixing debit-interchange prices, the unintended consequences for consumers and merchants, and the politics and how merchants wrong-footed the payments industry in the political arena.


Washington’s Assault on Payments (*.pdf)

In Digital Transactions surveys and comments on Washington’s full-throated legislative and regulatory assault on the payments industry.


The Fed Can’t Ignore the Durbin Amendment (*.pdf)

The rule of law is more important than the consequences of any particular piece of bad legislation. In the American Banker argues the Fed must follow Congress’s intent and implement section 1075 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (aka the Durbin Interchange Amendment) as written.


Stop the Fed’s Dual Mandate and Boost the Dollar (*.pdf)

In the American Banker makes the case narrowing the Fed’s mission to maintaining price stability and a sound dollar are vital to America’s and the world’s economic health.


Government Usurping Market Role in Interchange (*.pdf)

In the American Banker explains why card issuers’ loss of debit and prepay interchange mandated by section 1075 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (aka the Durbin interchange amendment) is likely to be five or sixfold greater than the $2 billion suggested by an American Banker report.


Dodd-Frank Bill Doesn’t Right What Fed Got Wrong (*.pdf)

In the American Banker contends the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act doesn’t address the root causes of the financial crisis, while imposing an enormous regulatory burden on the financial services industry and politicizing credit.


Ignoring the disease, treating the symptom: Bills let Fannie and Freddie walk while big banks get collared (*.pdf)

In the Washington Times contends that the “Restoring American Financial Stability Act” and the “Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act” – the financial regulatory overhaul bills, do little to nothing the prevent the next financial crisis.


Trouble Ahead for the Dynamic Duo (*.pdf)

In Digital Transactions discusses MasterCard’s and Visa’s businesses, the payment network competitive landscape, and their principal opportunities and threats.


Press China to Keep Card Promises (*.pdf)

In the American Banker discusses China’s making a mockery of its WTO commitment to open up it card payments market and urges the US to bring a WTO action.


Reckless trade policy (*.pdf)

In the Washington Times discusses China’s flouting its WTO commitments, particularly to open up its domestic credit and debit card markets.


Latest Card Bill Destructive to Industry, Users (*.pdf)

In the American Banker criticizes Congress’s proposal to impose a national usury limit and penalty fee caps on the credit card industry.


What went wrong with First Data? Payment processor shows signs of trouble (*.pdf)

In the Deal Magazine discusses challenges facing KKR’s enormous First Data LBO.


With an IPO Possible in 2010, Better Days Ahead for First Data? (*.pdf)

In Cards & Payments magazine discusses First Data’s LBO, challenges and prospects.


Shifting tides for Brazil’s credit card waters (*.pdf)

In the Deal Magazine discusses Brazil’s burgeoning electronic payments market, Redecard’s and VisaNet’s monopolies, and how competition will come to merchant acquiring and processing, and what it portends for pricing, acceptance and use.


Fee Debate Shifts with Political Winds (*.pdf)

In the American Banker discusses the long-simmering controversy over interchange and card acceptance fees, the merchant lobby’s campaign for government intervention, how the issue’s been framed in the political arena, and why it’s coming to a head.


Credit Cards in the Crosshairs (*.pdf)

In National Review Online criticizes Washington’s crusade against the vibrant credit-card industry and describes why greater government control and the politicization of credit cards will put a damper on innovation and delivery of revolving credit – particularly to those in greatest need.


Keep Government Out of the Cards Industry (*.pdf)

In the American Banker lambasts a range of proposed credit-card restrictions including Chris Dodd’s recommendation to ban Americans between 18 and 21 from being able to have a credit card without their parent or a guardian signing and their taking a financial literacy course.


The Best Is Yet To Come (*.pdf)

In Digital Transactions says the recession presents Visa and MasterCard with a wide range of opportunities that their relatively new status as publicly held companies frees them up to seize.


Decoupled debit’s promise (*.pdf)

In Cards & Payments magazine discusses the potentially game-changing nature of “decoupled debit.”


Keep government out of lending (*.pdf)

In the American Banker contends that government caused the current credit crisis and that further politicization of consumer credit markets is not the answer.


More competition not protectionism and paternalism for Europe’s card-payment market (*.pdf)

At argues that fostering more card-payment network competition rather than treating the networks as public utilities is the answer for what ails Europe’s retail payments market.


Enter the Pricing Mandarins (*.pdf)

In Digital Transactions discusses Congress’s proposal to control payment card acceptance fees and the damage it would cause in the world’s most competitive and innovative payments market.


John Conyers’ wallets (*.pdf)

In the Washington Times discusses Chairman John Conyers “Credit Card Fair Fee Act of 2008” and the harm it would do to consumers, merchants and the payments industry.


Let Market, Not D.C., Set Interchange Rates (*.pdf)

In the American Banker criticizes the “Credit Card Fair Fee Act of 2008,” which would convert the US card payment industry into a regulated public utility.


A tale of two IPOs (*.pdf)

In the Daily Deal compares Visa and MasterCard and factors influencing their relative valuations.


Visa and MasterCard Need to Ditch Their ‘Rope-a-Dope’ Interchange Strategy (*.pdf)

In Digital Transactions discusses the importance of interchange to the global card payment networks’ businesses, increasing regulatory and legal assaults on the practice, and the implications of a world without interchange.


Regulation of interchange is not the solution (*.pdf)

In Lafferty Councils Insider argues that insufficient card payment networks competition caused by bank control, a lack of profit seeking, and a hostile regulatory climate is what ails Europe’s consumer payment markets.


Valuing Visa (*.pdf)

In the Daily Deal discusses how Visa will be valued and the imperative for the global payment network to differentiate itself from MasterCard before the IPO.


What MC, Visa Can Learn from Wal-Mart ILC Bid (*.pdf)

In the American Banker urges the card payment networks to make a more aggressive, affirmative case in the public and political arena.


Card-payment network competition ‘reduces eurozone’s grey economy’ (*.pdf)

In comments on the effects of EU and national regulators intervention in the card payment network markets.


Options Abound for Post-Spinoff Discover (*.pdf)

In the American Banker describes how Discover can step up its game and a rationale for breaking it up.


Bad credit for charity (*.pdf)

In the Daily Deal describes why MasterCard’s charitable foundation is the epitome of bad corporate governance.


Lessons Visa Can Learn From MasterCard’s IPO (*.pdf)

In the American Banker lays out how Visa can benefit from and improve upon MasterCard’s IPO experience.


MasterCard Europe – Different But Not Better (*.pdf)

In Card Technology argues it is a mistake for MasterCard to let bankers retain control in Europe.


Paying Up (*.pdf)

In the Daily Deal comments on First Data’s challenges and opportunity to dominate end-to-end payment processing worldwide.


Let Open Market Decide the Fate of Interchange (*.pdf)

In the American Banker comments on the US interchange law suits, the rationale for cost-based interchange, and why interchange may rise after MasterCard’s IPO.


Why MC’s Revamp Will Work (and Visa’s Won’t) (*.pdf)

In the American Banker compares the merits of MasterCard International’s and Visa USA’s responses to the enormous threat posed by merchant plaintiffs’ suits.


MasterCard IPO Has Big Upside (*.pdf)

In Cards & Payments magazine lays out why post IPO MasterCard can accelerate growth and particular constraints management must address.


MasterCard’s Brave New World, Post-IPO (*.pdf)

In Digital Transactions discusses how by going public, MasterCard is throwing off the fetters of bank control, opening up a previously forbidden array of business opportunities with mobile-phone operators, merchants, insurance companies and others.


Priceless? (*.pdf)

In the Deal discusses how much MasterCard will be worth and key factors that will influence its valuation.


Why New Chief Should Take Visa Public (*.pdf)

In the American Banker urges Visa USA CEO John Coghlan to go public, reducing legal liability risk, providing capital and a public currency to fund growth and incent management, and starting to transform the payment association into an innovative and competitive business.


Missing the Mark (*.pdf)

In Cards & Payments contends that payment networks must differentiate their value propositions and invest in their consumer brands to avoid becoming commodity utilities.


Why you need a bureau – a French case study (*.pdf)

In Cards International discusses the vital importance of a competitive credit bureau infrastructure in enabling robust and innovative consumer finance markets.


Buy American (*.pdf)

In the Daily Deal discusses why for European financial institutions, technology providers and processors, buying assets in America is compelling.


Setting Interchange Fees Best Left Up to the Market (*.pdf)

Discusses the increasing legal and regulatory assault on interchange in jurisdictions across the globe and how interchange enables a web of businesses to collaborate and innovate.


French firms should follow Israeli model (*.pdf)

In Silicon Valley Business Ink advises European software firms to transplant their front office to the U.S. at the earliest opportunity in order to enhance their prospects of winning globally.


Let Markets Set Rates, Policy for Interchange (*.pdf)

In the American Banker argues than financial institutions, merchants and consumers are better served by the market rather than regulators and courts setting interchange rates and rules.


Gold in the SMB space (*.pdf)

In CRM Magazine discusses why the SMB is more attractive the enterprise and why for firms to come up from the .


The Greatest Risk (*.pdf)

In The Daily Deal contends the current environment presents a compelling window of opportunity for technology businesses to acquire technology, products, additional clients and market presence.


Unshackle the Card Associations (*.pdf)

In Credit Card Management magazine makes the case that demutualizing and broadening the ownership of the bankcard associations MasterCard and Visa would unleash a wave of innovation in electronic payments.


Credit scores could fuel P2P Commerce (*.pdf)

In Silicon Valley Business Ink discusses the opportunity to use consumer credit scores to build and communicate individual reputations and thereby facilitate P2P commerce.


The Demutualization Dilemma (*.pdf)

Contends that a change in the governance of the bankcard associations would bring substantial benefits to consumers, merchants and banks.


A Nirvana for Marketers: Data Sharing (*.pdf)

In the American Banker discusses how the successful use of information improves consumers’ quality of life and attendant challenges faced by, and opportunities for, businesses in acquiring consumer data.