For Visa, MasterCard and merchants, it’s deja vu all over again

"It's deja vu all over again." - Yogi Berra

It took me a lot longer than I expected to research today’s blog because when I read the news this morning that Visa and MasterCard had again reached a settlement of their decade old anti-trust legal dispute with the merchants., I had to refresh my aging hard drive of a memory about just how we got here.

For example, if you’re like me you remember what a big deal it was when, in 2013, a settlement was reached under which $7.25 billion was to be handed over to the merchants and other financial institutions had to surrender a portion of their credit card fee income to merchants. Remember, this was the price we had to pay for peace in our times. It didn’t last very long.

The settlement was stillborn. Some of the largest retailers objected to the deal and eventually the Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit agreed (In re Payment Card Interchange Fee & Merch. Disc. Antitrust Litig., 827 F.3d 223, 236 (2d Cir. 2016), concluding that a significant proportion of merchants were either legally or commercially unable to obtain the benefits extensively negotiated on their behalf.

 

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