Visa / Mastercard Buy Button Unites Retailers…Against It

June 12, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

Did you hear that almost audible “gulp” just now? It’s like somewhere several dozen credit card company executives swallowed in reflexive fear. Visa and Mastercard have been working on a “buy button” for some time now, and working to create what amounts to a unified user experience for online payments. Sounds great, but there’s a problem: retailers aren’t at all happy about it.

The backlash is coming mainly from the Secure Payments Partnership, a spin-off group that was part of the National Retail Federation, reports note, that mainly focuses on what the name suggests: payment security for merchants handling credit and debit cards. Sounds reasonable enough, but there’s a line in the group’s announcement release that should give us pause; the line claims that Visa and Mastercard “control security standards,” which would make them ill-disposed to outright accepting a buy button from the duo.

While the Secure Payments Partnership doesn’t actually object to the buy button, at last report, it suggests that some of the old grievances may not be settled. It’s part of a larger running battle seen in issues like mobile payments as well as interchange pricing.

National Retail Federation senior vice president and general counsel Stephanie Martz noted “The button is a perfect example of issues where we would like to have insight and input. We’re in favor of innovation and convenience for our customers. But we don’t know what’s behind the button. If there is only one routing choice we would be very concerned.”

The good news for Visa and Mastercard here is that the resistance right now seems largely conditional, more concerned than opposed. If the pair can find out exactly what the National Retail Federation and the Secure Payments Partnership objects to, it can address those objections and hopefully change some minds. Given that right now, as reports note, it’s not even clear how much transaction volume the card networks are going to allow each other, there’s reason for concern due to sheer lack of clarity.

The more that Visa and Mastercard can do to assure retailers that their turf won’t be encroached without clear gain for the retailer, the better overall. Crises of survival tend to bring out the worst, and with retail already being cannibalized by online shopping, clearing up this matter should help.