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Visa and Mastercard Reach Landmark Settlement, Slashing Transaction Fees in the US

 |  March 26, 2024

Visa and Mastercard have reached a monumental settlement agreement that is poised to reshape the landscape of credit card transactions in the United States. The accord, announced on Tuesday, comes as a result of protracted litigation initiated by merchants, alleging exorbitant transaction fees imposed by the payment giants. According to reports from the Financial Times, the settlement is anticipated to deliver significant relief to merchants, potentially amounting to savings of $30 billion over the next five years.

Under the terms of the agreement, Visa and Mastercard are obligated to reduce the transaction fees, commonly known as “swipe fees,” they levy on sellers over the course of the next five years. This move is expected to alleviate the financial burden on merchants, allowing them greater flexibility in managing their operational costs. Furthermore, the settlement grants merchants the liberty to implement differential pricing strategies based on the type of credit card utilized by consumers, a practice previously restricted by Visa and Mastercard.

The conclusion of this prolonged legal battle marks a significant victory for merchants who have long decried the allegedly inflated payment processing fees imposed by Visa and Mastercard. While merchants currently have the prerogative to impose additional charges on consumers employing American Express cards, restrictions imposed by Visa and Mastercard have prevented similar practices for transactions conducted through their networks. With this settlement, merchants are poised to gain enhanced autonomy in structuring pricing mechanisms tailored to different credit card providers, reported FT.

Read more: FTC Probes Competition In Visa, Mastercard Debit Routing Practices

Importantly, it is noteworthy that the settlement does not mandate merchants to pass on the savings accrued from reduced fees to consumers. This aspect has raised questions regarding the extent to which consumers will directly benefit from the landmark agreement. However, proponents argue that the newfound flexibility and cost savings afforded to merchants could indirectly translate into improved offerings and pricing for consumers in the long run.

Kim Lawrence, President of Visa North America, emphasized the significance of direct negotiations with merchants, citing the concessions made in the settlement as addressing tangible challenges faced by small businesses. Similarly, Rob Beard, Chief Legal Officer, General Counsel, and Head of Global Policy at Mastercard, hailed the agreement for providing closure to a longstanding dispute while delivering substantial value to business owners.

The ramifications of this settlement are expected to reverberate throughout the financial ecosystem, potentially paving the way for increased competition and innovation in the payments industry.

Source: FT