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Visa Reaches Out for Small-Ticket Transactions

BY CSA STAFF

San Francisco, Visa USA unveiled a strategy to accelerate Visa card acceptance and consumer usage at traditionally cash-heavy, smaller-ticket businesses. The plan involves lower transaction fees for some retailers.

Visa will allow merchants to forgo obtaining a cardholder’s signature on a receipt for authorized transactions less than $25 to speed up Visa card payments at checkout. This signature exception will be available in several merchant segments where fraud has been historically low, such as drug stores, parking lots and movie theaters, among others.

Visa will enhance the financial incentive for acquirers in several small-ticket segments by reducing the interchange reimbursement fee in those segments on Visa consumer check card transactions of $15 or less. Retailers in the program will pay 1.65% plus 4? per credit-card transaction, Reuters reported. The debit-card fee will fall to 1.55% from 1.6%. Interchange fees on all U.S. purchases average about 1.56%, according to a Federal Reserve study issued in May, or about 1.75%, according to a study from Morgan Stanley.

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Mall Opens After Delays

BY CSA STAFF

Bellevue, Wash., Lincoln Square, a mixed-use development in Bellevue, Wash., opens for business on Tuesday after years of delays and a change of ownership. It includes 310,000 sq. ft. of retail (some of which is still being leased), 148 residential condominiums, a 16-screen cinema and the 337-room Westin Bellevue. Kemper Development Co., the developer and manager of the property, acquired Lincoln Square in August 2003 from Lend Lease Real Estate Investments.

The 1.4 million-sq.-ft. projects will ultimately include an office tower that will house the new Eddie Bauer headquarters. Construction on the tower is due to start in early 2006.

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Judge Dismisses Large Part of Wal-Mart Lawsuit Against Former Executive

BY CSA STAFF

Bentonville, Ark., An Arkansas judge Tuesday dismissed a large part of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s lawsuit against its former vice chairman Tom Coughlin, saying the executive and the company had agreed not to sue one another over any events that happened during Coughlin’s tenure. Benton County Circuit Judge Jay Finch said Wal-Mart failed to show that Arkansas law required a company officer to disclose any improprieties before signing a general release from liability.

Wal-Mart had sued Coughlin this summer, saying he misspent company money before he retired in January. Coughlin remained on the board. He resigned from the board in March, when Wal-Mart disclosed it was handing documents over to the Justice Department showing that $500,000 had been misspent. Wal-Mart filed suit against Coughlin in July alleging fraud in connection with efforts to misappropriate money through bogus expenses and the unauthorized use of company gift cards.

The judge said Wal-Mart can still pursue losses that occurred after Jan. 22, when the company and Coughlin waived their right to sue over past events. Wal-Mart says it gave Coughlin $400,000 in April because of a benefits calculation error and wants the money returned.

“We grant Coughlin’s motion to dismiss that part of Wal-Mart’s complaint of all allegations occurring prior to signing the mutual release,” Finch said. “With regard to Wal-Mart’s post-release allegations, we deny Coughlin’s motion to dismiss.”

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