MasterCard takes $ 495 million charge to cover potential loss in merchant …
News from Washington Post:

NEW YORK — MasterCard Inc. on Thursday said it recorded a $ 495 million charge in its fourth quarter to cover potential losses related to a lawsuit brought by retailers over the fees they pay on credit card transactions.

Without the charge, MasterCard’s earnings topped expectations, as shoppers put more purchases on debit and credit cards during the holiday season. The company also repeated strong earnings and revenue guidance for the next two years. Shares rose about 6 percent.

The Purchase, N.Y.-based payments processor said the charge represents the after-tax portion of a potential settlement in the case, and is based on progress seen in mediation. On a pre-tax basis, the charge was $ 770 million.

“Based on what the discussions are as of last night, I had to make a judgment,” said Chief Financial Officer Martina Hund-Mejean in an interview. “This is not the low end of the range, this is our best estimate of what kind of loss MasterCard might incur.”

Wall Street had speculated the pre-tax bill would run about $ 1.2 billion to $ 1.8 billion if MasterCard and rival Visa Inc. settle the suit.

The class action suit stretches back to 2005, and also involves most major U.S. banks as defendants. The merchants include grocery chains Kroger Inc. and Safeway Inc., Rite Aid Corp., QVC Inc., the National Association of Convenience store…………… continues on Washington Post

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Credit-Card Calisthenics: What Strategy Works for Your Biz?
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We’re one twelfth of the way through 2012. It’s a good time to check in on the resolutions you made for the New Year, especially those that touch directly on your small business’ finances.

So, how are you doing with them?

No doubt you’ve already read a healthy dose of articles espousing “five tips for this” and “six strategies for that.” And you’ve probably vowed to make vague promises to work harder or stay within budget. But one resolution that is simple, effective, and easy to follow through on is to improve your company’s credit-card strategy.

Around 80 percent of small businesses use credit cards as a funding source, according to the National Small Business Association. The problem with that is most companies are likely using business credit cards for this purpose. Now, this might not seem like a problem at first glance, considering that these cards are branded for business use and would therefore seem aptly suited for such. But here’s the thing—you can’t always trust branding.

Beneath the Surface

Business credit cards are more similar to their general-use siblings than you might think. Small-business owners are held personally liable for business-card use by a…………… continues on

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