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In Op-Ed for Fortune ILSR Details the High Cost of Cashless Retail Trend

Charlie Thaxton  |  April 3, 2019

Cashless retail is on the rise and has begun to concern some lawmakers. New Jersey recently banned the practice. Philadelphia has done the same. So far, the debates leading up to these laws have mostly centered on how cash-free establishments exclude unbanked citizens.

In a commentary piece for Fortune, ILSR researcher Charlie Thaxton details another major cost. Cashless retail — and credit cards in general — allow a handful of credit card monopolies and big banks to siphon billions of dollars from consumers and businesses through the swipe fees they charge merchants. These fees amounted to $79 billion last year.

Businesses, especially small ones, have little leverage to negotiate these fees, which average about 2 percent of a transaction. Refusing to accept Visa and Mastercard isn't a viable option, either.

Europe has responded to this market failure by capping swipe fees at 0.3 percent -- about one-seventh of the average rate in the United States. With card transactions almost certain to become ever more common, we should do the same. Otherwise, giant financial interests will continue to use their monopoly position to drain more revenue from the productive economy.

Continue Reading.


Shining a Light on Anticompetitive Behavior

Hibba Meraay  |  April 4, 2019

Host Chris Mitchell is joined by ILSR Co-Directors Stacy Mitchell and John Farrell for a conversation on various anti-competitive corporate actions and policy fights that might have slipped under your radar.

Topics include: the AT&T-Time Warner merger, a push by electric utilities in some states to trade clean power for monopoly control (a deal we think states should reject), cashless retail, Amazon’s latest moves, and more.

Listen to the full episode here.



Read the full thread.



  • Weeks after the FTC allowed Staples to buy a key supplier to independent office dealers, Staples’ private-equity parent, Sycamore, has taken $1 billion out of the company and loaded it with crippling debt payments.
  • Reviving anti-monopoly policy took center stage at a presidential forum in Iowa, where six candidates vowed to take on Big Agriculture.
  • Senator Elizabeth Warren's proposal to break up big tech has launched an essential policy debate. It’s also drawn bad-faith critics. David Dayen offers a point-by-point response.
  • Big corporations are using non-compete agreements to push down wages and fortify their market power.
  • Skyrocketing rents are killing NYC’s small businesses, yet the city council has continued to dodge real reform in favor of proposals that only gesture at the problem.
  • Independent music promoters deliver big benefits to artists and fans alike, but Live Nation’s moves to consolidate the market are putting them at risk.
  • Here’s a look at the enormous numbers behind Amazon’s market reach. 
  • As Amazon peddles its facial recognition app to law enforcement, artificial intelligence researchers joined together to condemn the technology as dangerously inaccurate and biased.
  • Meanwhile, Amazon is extending its surveillance to healthcare with new Alexa skills that track personal health information.
  • Can Amazon’s algorithms collude to raise prices?
  • Amid scrutiny of its market power, Amazon has quietly scaled back its use of promotional spots to steer shoppers to its own private-label products. The move is hardly a money-loser though: Amazon can now get big brands to buy these ad spots.
  • In Oklahoma, pharmacists are fighting for legislation that would bar powerful PBMs, like CVS Health, from forcing customers to use a chain pharmacy.
  • Shopping small in Rochester, N.Y., means local craft beer, fresh pierogi, and a historic African-American bookstore.
  • April is Community Banking Month. Check out ILSR’s top 5 reasons to move your money to a local bank or credit union.
  • Despite challenges, independent grocers still account for 21 percent of the market, a testament to their skill and community roots.
  • “We need stores, but we need the right kind of stores: small, independently owned, community minded ones… The Dollar General isn’t it.”

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Copyright © 2019 Institute for Local Self-Reliance, All rights reserved.

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