Discover reports a Q4 decline, I bet I know why
Posted by: Curtis Stevens on December 17th, 2009

Discover released its fourth quarter financial results and they declined compared to this quarter last year.  I’m guessing this has to do with them becoming an association instead of their traditional role.  For decades, Discover played all parts of the role in credit card processing. They were the card issuer, processor and merchant bank. In other words, they gave out the cards to consumers, approved merchants for acceptance and processed all the transactions. I believe sometime in 2008, they started to become an association like V/MC. Instead of them assuming liability on the merchant’s site, banks such as Wells Fargo & HSBC became acquirers for Discover like they are for Visa/MC. Why would all this matter you ask? Before, Discover charged higher discount rates to merchants and they kept 100% of the profit. Now, they have Interchange like V/MC and that is all they collect. What the merchant pays on top of that goes to other people in the chain. Also, the Interchange rates are quite a bit less than what Discover was charging merchants directly 3 or 4 years ago.

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