NATIONAL NEWS

Visa, Mastercard settle long-running antitrust suit over swipe fees with merchants

Mar 26, 2024, 6:14 AM

NEW YORK (AP) — Visa and MasterCard announced a settlement with U.S. merchants related to swipe fees, a development that could potentially save consumers tens of billions of dollars.

Swipe fees are paid to Visa, Mastercard and other credit card companies in exchange for enabling transactions. Merchants ultimately pass on those fees to consumers who use credit or debit cards.

According to the settlement announced Tuesday, Visa and Mastercard will cap the credit interchange fees into 2030, and the companies must negotiate the fees with merchant buying groups.

The settlement stems from a 2005 lawsuit which alleged that merchants paid excessive fees to accept Visa and Mastercard credit cards, and that Visa and Mastercard and their member banks acted in violation of antitrust laws.

In 2018 Visa and Mastercard agreed to pay $6.2 billion as part of the long-running suit filed by a group of 19 merchants. But the lawsuit then had two pieces that need to be resolved: a dispute over the rules Visa and Mastercard impose to accept their cards, and the merchants who chose not to participate in the settlement.

Visa said Tuesday that more than 90% of the merchants in Tuesday’s settlement are small businesses.

Mastercard did not acknowledge any improper conduct, which was part of the settlement, and the changes will take effects after approval of the settlement, most likely in late 2024 or early 2025.

The settlement is subject to final approval by the Eastern District Court of New York.

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Visa, Mastercard settle long-running antitrust suit over swipe fees with merchants