retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• The Merchants Payments Coalition has criticized the Federal Reserve, saying that new rules make "merchants pay for fraud prevention even if banks don't prevent fraud.

"Although the Fed found that merchants bear 41 percent of signature debit fraud losses and 74 percent of such losses for 'card-not-present' transactions, its rules now require them to pay fees that cover 100 percent of fraud-prevention costs incurred by issuing banks.

"Under debit-card reform that took effect in October, the Fed was to ensure that banks actually take effective steps to prevent fraud and decide how much of the cost of preventing fraud the merchants and the banks should bear. Instead, the Fed rule rewards banks with more merchant funds if they self-determine that they prevent fraud. That will not be effective and regulators should have to find that the banks actually reduce fraud before they get more funds."

The Coalition says that "it is unfair for the Fed to saddle merchants with the costs resulting from this purposely outdated technology. Instead the Merchants Payments Coalition believes that with this ruling the Fed is abdicating its regulatory role and simply allowing more money to flow to banks that issue debit cards."

Reuters reports that "ConAgra Foods Inc. struck a deal to buy Unilever Plc's North American frozen meal business for $265 million, adding the premium Bertolli and P.F. Chang's brands to its frozen foods portfolio." The deal is ConAgra's fifth acquisition in 12 months.
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