Walmart Opts Out of Interchange Case Settlement, Seeks Damages in New Lawsuit (March 27, 2014)
Walmart this week opted out of the $7.25 billion settlement Visa and MasterCard reached last fall over interchange fees and filed its own antitrust suit against Visa. Several other merchants, including Target and Macy’s, previously opted out of the settlement of the lawsuit, originally filed in 2005, claiming acceptance of its terms would constrain future negotiations over interchange policies and fees. Walmart is seeking $5 billion in damages, alleging price fixing and other antitrust violations that took place between Jan. 1, 2004 and Nov. 27, 2012, the date the settlement was announced.
In a 39-page complaint filed March 25 in U.S. District Court in Arkansas, Walmart alleges that Visa’s credit card acceptance rules and practices harmed competition and stifled innovation by forcing merchants to accept all cards carrying its brand. Walmart also alleges that over the past several years Visa suppressed development and use of new fraud-prevention technologies in the U.S., forcing merchants and consumers to absorb more than $350 billion in overall costs to accept credit and debit cards.
Approving the networks’ settlement with merchants “would give the defendants a sweeping release that poses considerable risk of abuse and does nothing to change the broken market,” a Walmart spokesperson tells Paybefore. Large merchants led by the National Retail Federation in January filed an appeal of the settlement, which was announced in July 2012 and approved in federal court late last year.