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September 27, 2012

Restaurant Association rejects Visa and MasterCard’s swipe fee settlement

The US National Restaurant Association has announced it will reject the USD7.25bn settlement agreement proposed by Visa, MasterCard and a number of US banks over swipe fees.

By Verdict Staff

In July 2012, Visa, MasterCard and nine major US issuers, including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo announced the settlement to end a dispute that started  in 2005, when a class of 7m US merchants accused them to violated antitrust laws by conspiring to impose high swipe fees.

The National Restaurant Association rejected the settlement saying that it does not address the core issues of their legal battle. Dawn Sweeney, president and chief executive of the National Restaurant, said in a statement:  “There is strong concern that the proposed settlement agreement will not achieve the litigation’s most critical goal – to fundamentally change a broken marketplace in which swipe fees are set.”

The settlement also offers a temporary reduction in swipe fees and allows merchants to impose additional charges on cards transactions. But for the 970 000 strong business association the proposal is not adequate. “Restaurateurs also have no ability to negotiate fees or terms of card acceptance, and after digging into the details of the proposed agreement, we have serious concerns that rather than correct those fundamental flaws, it cements those flaws for decades to come,” said Sweeney.

In September 2012, another plaintiff, the National Retail Federation, which represents more than 9,000 US retailers, also announced its opposition to the settlement, saying it does not prevent fees from rising again in the future.

The issue will be further discussed in a case-management conference scheduled for 27 September 2012.



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