Visa, Mastercard Reach New Swipe-Fee Settlement With Retailers

Deal addresses only monetary claims, not rule changes

SAN FRANCISCO -- Visa Inc., Mastercard and U.S. financial-institution defendants have agreed to settle and resolve class claims in the multidistrict litigation of credit-card interchange or swipe fees with retailers such as convenience stores and associations including NACS. The proposed settlement amount is approximately $6.2 billion.

The agreement addresses monetary claims and does not resolve merchants' claims seeking changes to rules and business practices concerning merchant credit-card acceptance and payments.

Under the terms of the agreement, San Francisco-based Visa, Purchase, N.Y.-based Mastercard and their customer financial institutions will receive a release of all claims of damages that were alleged, or could have been alleged, by the merchant class members concerning Visa and Mastercard’s interchange fee structures and merchant acceptance rules, Mastercard said in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

This settlement covers all retrospective claims, as well as prospective claims for a period of five years after the resolution of all appeals relating to court approval of the agreement, according to the companies.

The claims were originally brought by a class of U.S. retailers in 2005.

Visa and Mastercard previously reached a settlement with merchants, but it was thrown out by a federal appeals court in 2016, and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up the case in 2017.

The Supreme Court’s move leaves a ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, that struck down a 2012 settlement in a lawsuit brought by the group of retailers and associations representing the retail industry. The value of that settlement, originally worth $7.25 billion, dropped to $5.7 billion after about 8,000 merchants, including several c-store chains, opted out of  the settlement.

The new settlement must still be approved by a court, said a Reuters report.

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