Store chains get support from states in ongoing fee dispute

The splintering lawsuits that have occurred since the sprawling antitrust settlement between different merchants and card companies over interchange fees for credit card processors began has taken a new turn. Previously, separate groups had formed to oppose a settlement against corporations like Visa under the notion that they were unfair to retail businesses. Now, states are getting into the fray.

Many of the companies who object to the settlement, which stem from disputes begun in 2005, include the companies that own high-profile chains like Wal-Mart, Amazon and Home Depot. This week, the Wall Street Journal reported that nine states have seen their respective attorneys general attack this settlement by claiming it would block future litigation attempts against the card companies, should they be needed.

And though one of the attorneys involved in the case told the Journal that this is a "narrow issue," it appears that the retailers involved have been vocal in their opposition to policies they feel would still disadvantage business operators. Wal-Mart's senior vice president, Mike Cook, expressed such an opinion in an official objection.

"The proposed settlement will not change the tactics Visa, MasterCard and the banks use to squelch competition in the current payment marketplace," he said. Currently, the settlement is set to be reviewed this September.

While these kinds of long-standing legal contentions can seem like obstacles to business, they can also lead to consideration of the best practices and the sort of regulations that represent a fair playing field for all entities. Businesses that turn to credit card payment processors can become part of the conversation in this regard, and can also use their capabilities to help push for better standards that serve the interests of all parties involved.

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