Tired of high risk and low returns, banks began an exodus from the acquiring end of the credit card business years ago. Now some are wondering whether they should have postponed that trip.

It wasn't long ago that many banks decided that handling credit card transactions for merchants was no longer worth the trouble. Though a few big players have hung on, Citicorp, Chase Manhattan Corp., Chemical Banking Corp. and many smaller banks bailed out at roughly the speed of a credit card authorization.

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