Friday, September 14, 2012

Retail Group Vows to Block $7.25 Billion Swipe Fee Settlement

This posting was written by Sarah Borchersen-Keto, CCH Washington Correspondent.

The National Retail Federation said it would block a proposed $7.25 billion settlement involving Visa Inc., MasterCard Inc., and major banks for their role in allegedly fixing swipe fees, or the charges paid by merchants for accepting credit cards.

“NRF will take any and all steps necessary to oppose the settlement as it is currently proposed and will work toward real reform of the swipe fee system,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay.

The group, which is not a party to the lawsuit, is currently exploring what form of legal action it might take. NRF noted that U.S. District Court Judge John Gleeson has not yet fully outlined how outside groups will be able to intervene, or if the case qualifies as a class action.

NRF argues that if the case actually went to trial and the verdict favored retailers, the judgment could total hundreds of billions of dollars, compared to the settlement total of $7.25 billion. Also, the proposed settlement does nothing to block future increases in swipe fees, the group claims.

NRF said it is particularly concerned by a provision that bars all merchants – even those that currently do not exist – from ever again suing Visa and MasterCard over swipe fees.

Last month the Retail Industry Leaders Association urged class plaintiffs to reject the proposed settlement, citing concerns that it would limit their future legal options and preserve the Visa/MasterCard duopoly. Other groups expressing concern with the settlement include the National Association of Convenience Stores and the National Grocers Association.

As the world’s largest retail trade association and the voice of retail worldwide, NRF represents retailers of all types and sizes, including chain restaurants and industry partners, from the United States and more than 45 countries abroad.

Further details regarding In re Payment Card Interchange Fee and Merchant Discount Antitrust Litigation appears in a July 16, 2012 posting on Trade Regulation Talk.

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