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PURCHASE, N.Y. – Beginning on January 1, MasterCard has begun to assess a three basis point fee on all their debit transactions, using MasterCard branded cards, whether validated with a personal identification number or with the cardholder’s signature. The .03% Debit Investment Fee is meant to help MasterCard market its debit products and build broader support in the marketplace, according to a MasterCard spokeswoman. The spokeswoman also denied that the association would be using the money to rebuild its capital stocks after the recent payments in the Wal-Mart retailer suit or to make any of those payments. In its part of the landmark settlement, MasterCard agreed to pay $125 million in the first year and then $100 million per year in the next nine years into a special fund set up for Wal-Mart and the other suing retailers. Although no one from MasterCard has yet become available to provide any hard data about its debit volumes for 2003, Tony Hayes of the Boston-based firm Dove Consulting estimated 2002′s debit volume to be $65 billion on 1.7 billion transactions. A .03% fee on that transaction volume would have yielded roughly $20 million.

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