Legend has it that the first credit card was born in 1950 over lunch at a Manhattan restaurant when Alfred Bloomingdale and his colleague Francis McNamara dreamed up the idea of creating a third party to cover checks at restaurants. They called it Diners Club. But the scheme faced a "chicken-and-egg problem". Consumers didn't want card until stores accepted it, and merchants wouldn't accept it until consumers carried it.
To solve the problem, and to work around federal laws that prevented banks from operating across state lines, banks joined together to form "network joint ventures", such as Visa and MasterCard. Under these arrangements, some member banks recruited consumers, others recruited merchants. The banks on both ends earned fees, and they shared the costs of maintaining the networks.
Because of an antitrust dispute twenty-five years ago, Visa allows its member banks to join up with MasterCard as well. But it refuses to allow them to collaborate with any other network. The Justice Department is less appreciative. In October 1998—shortly before Paying with Plastic went to press—the government charged Visa and MasterCard with violating the Sherman Antitrust Act. (Wal-Mart and a group of big retailers have filed a related suit, charging that Visa and MasterCard have colluded to keep fees on their debit cards unfairly high. ) The trouble is that today Visa and MasterCard have pretty much the same member banks. Do two ventures with the same owners really have an incentive to compete?
According to the government's complaint, in 1987 MasterCard was prepared to introduce the first "smart card" — a card with an integrated circuit that could store personal data. But MasterCard's board refused to proceed without Visa's go-ahead. Today both brands are still developing a smart card, sharing information all the while. The situation doesn't exactly encourage competition. As Visa International's president and chief executive put it in an unguarded moment in 1992, "If you have got one foot firmly placed on both sides of the street, who cares?"
Some people insist that the Visa-MasterCard partnership does not harm competition or innovation. They point to Visa and MasterCard's rival advertising campaigns and to Citibank's recent decision to switch its primary allegiance from Visa to MasterCard because only MasterCard would allow it to relegate the network insignia to the back of its plastic cards. The reason no one has introduced smart cards, says Evans, is because the chip technology is too expensive. "It is a silly argument," he says. "The Justice Department is trying to fix something that isn't broken. This industry is extraordinarily successful. "
Indeed, however the case turns out, the most popular complaint against the consumer-credit business is likely to remain what it was a century ago: The industry succeeds all too well at putting expensive credit in the hands of weak-willed shoppers. (466 words)[page]
21. The phrase "chicken-and-egg problem" in paragraph 1 most probably means ______.
A.consumers didn't want card until stores accepted it
B.merchants wouldn't accept it until consumers carried it
C.both consumers and merchants are very important
D.it is hard to say which side should take the initial step
22. According to the text, which of the following may be considered as Visa’s violating Antitrust Act?
A.Allowing its member banks to join up with MasterCard.
B.Keeping fees on their debit cards unfairly high.
C.Developing a smart card, sharing information all the while.
D.Sharing the costs of maintaining the networks.
23. Which of the following is NOT true of "smart card"?
A.It was officially issued 1987.
B.It contains an integrated circuit.
C.It could store personal data.
D.It is being developed by both Visa and MasterCard.
24. Why are people reluctant to accept smart cards according to Evans?
A.Because it is too popular.
B.Because it is too inconvenient.
C.Because the chip itself is too expensive.
D.Because it's cost to produce the chip is too expensive.
25. The best title for the text may be _______.
A.Legend of the First Credit Card
B. A "Chicken-and-egg Problem"
C. Credit Card and Its Problems
D.Miraculous Credit Card
21. D， "chicken-and-egg problem"：先有鸡还是先有蛋的问题。结合上下文我们可知，此处是谁先迈出第一步之意。
23. A，不是1987年正式发行，而是准备发行。见第四段第一句：in 1987 MasterCard was prepared to introduce the first "smart card"
24. D， 因为其芯片的技术成本很高。见第5段倒数第4句：because the chip technology is too expensive;( C) 不正确，因为芯片本身(chip itself)并不昂贵。
25. C 信用卡及其问题。根据第一段Consumers didn't want card until stores accepted it, and merchants wouldn't accept it until consumers carried it，第二段To solve the problem，以及最后一段的主题句Indeed, however the case turns out, the most popular complaint against the consumer-credit business is likely to remain what it was a century ago，便可知道答案为C。