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Visa Mastercard settles again, this time for future relief
Written By: Dennis O'Toole
April 16, 2024

The $5.54 billion Visa Mastercard settlement that is now accepting claims is no longer the latest recovery opportunity for merchants that accept the two credit cards, and nor is it the largest. The companies have settled once again, this time for $30 billion.


Plaintiffs in this settlement alleged that Visa and Mastercard colluded to fix the price of interchange fees, just like in the other settlement, and they also allege the companies prevented merchants from steering customers to cheaper forms of payment.


For this new settlement, there are no claim forms. Rather, the $30 billion in value come from a reduction of swipe fees by at least four basis points for three years, a promise not to raise swipe fees for five years, and a promise to maintain an average swipe fee at least seven basis points below the current average rate.


Other terms include:


·      merchants may now charge for using a credit card;

·      they may steer consumers towards cheaper payment methods;

·      they may adjust prices according to the cost of credit cards as a form of payment;

·      and they may also “provide customers truthful information as to why they are applying a charge for credit card use.”


That last quote comes from the formal press release announcing the settlement, which (yes, there’s more) also provides merchants with more ability to negotiate swipe fees and sets aside $15 million for merchant education on swipe fees.


As you can see, this is a much different settlement than the one currently accepting claim forms. That $15 million is about all the defendants will have to pay directly, aside from legal fees and settlement administrator costs. The rest will come from future earnings.


While that $30 billion is eye catching, and while many merchants will be happy for the fee reductions and removal of anti-steering restrictions, some think the settlement does not go far enough.


Georgetown University law and finance professor Adam Levitin told Reuters, "If that's the result of nearly two decades of litigation, then the settlement is a huge loss for U.S. merchants.” The article also notes that Levitin pointed out that, “U.S. merchants would still pay an average 219 basis point swipe fee, the highest in the developed world.”


“’It's a bad deal for merchants,’ said Doug Kantor, general counsel of the National Association of Convenience Stores…”


And at that point I will stop quoting the Reuters article because it is depressing me. I mean, those high fees get passed on to the consumer, right? And if there was a more robust settlement then some of that relief could get passed on to me too, right? (Here it may be important to point out that I have a dog in this fight. You see, I’m a consumer.) Ugh, what a drag.


So if you agree with Mr. Levitin and Mr. Kantor that this $30 billion is not nearly as big as it should be, then make sure you take part in the previous $5.54 billion Visa Mastercard Settlement. Certificate Clearing can eliminate the wait for a payout by buying your claim now, and can also help you file a claim on your behalf. For more on those options, click here, or call us today.





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