Visa Inc. (V), MasterCard Inc. and some of the biggest U.S. banks agreed to a settlement of at least $6.05 billion in a price-fixing case brought by retailers over credit-card swipe fees.
The total value of the settlement is $7.25 billion to a class of about 7 million merchants in the U.S. that accept Visa and MasterCard credit cards and debit cards, a law firm for the merchants, Robins Kaplan Miller & Ciresi LLP, said in a statement.
Visa, the world’s biggest payments network, said its share of the settlement filed yesterday in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, was about $4.4 billion. Visa said the proposed settlement payments, including costs incurred by MasterCard Inc. (MA) and card-issuing banks, would be about $6.6 billion. That amount would include about $525 million for individual claims.
“We believe settling this case is in the best interests of all parties,” Visa Chief Executive Officer Joseph W. Saunders said yesterday in a statement.
The agreement, which provides for a temporary reduction in rates for merchants and allows them to impose surcharges on customer purchases, follows a seven-year legal battle with U.S. retailers that accused the two largest payment networks of conspiring with banks to fix swipe fees, or interchange.
Those rule changes wouldn’t take effect in states where laws specifically prohibit credit-card surcharges, said Douglas Kantor, a lawyer for the National Association of Convenience Stores. The association said yesterday in a statement it wouldn’t participate in the settlement, saying the agreement offers too much to Visa and MasterCard and is unfair to merchants.
“The settlement doesn’t reform the market,” Kantor said. “It will still have Visa and MasterCard setting the fees so the banks don’t have to compete.”
MasterCard, the world’s second-biggest payments network, said the settlement would cost it $790 million.
“Our decision to settle is based on our belief that MasterCard and our stakeholders are best served by an amicable resolution,” Noah Hanft, general counsel for the Purchase, New York-based company, said in a statement. “We know that merchants care about their customers and anticipate that they will not impose checkout fees, particularly because the value merchants derive from card acceptance far exceeds their costs.”