Court Rejects Primary Appeal Of MasterCard-Visa Swipe Fee Settlement

Retailers against the Visa and MasterCard swipe fee settlement were dealt another small blow this week, as they lost their bid to appeal a judge’s preliminary approval of the settlement.

According to Bloomberg, a federal appeals court in Manhattan refused to speed up the retailer’s appeal, deferring the appeal until U.S. District Judge John Gleeson gives his final judgment on the case.

Gleeson gave his preliminary approval of the settlement, which would award $7.25 billion to various retailers and merchants, on November 9, 2012. The final hearing is scheduled to take place on September 12, 2013.

Around 1,200 retailers and trade organizations oppose the proposed settlement, which some estimate to be the largest antitrust settlement in history. As currently constructed, the settlement would be a huge win for MasterCard, Visa, JPMorgan, Bank of American and other defendants, and would bring an end to a seven-year trial.

Many of the settlements detractors, such as the NRF, view the settlement as inadequate, and allege that it encourages “anticompetitive” behavior by the major U.S. networks and banks. Swipe fees have tripled over the past 10 years to nearly $50 billion, and in 2009, the top 10 credit card issuing banks in the U.S. accounted for over 90 percent of the country’s outstanding credit card debt.

The settlement also contains a provision that would disallow merchants from suing Visa and MasterCard over swipe fees in the future, which many retailers find troubling.

At the time of his preliminary approval, Gleeson cited some of the objects as “overstated,” but maintained that the legal standard for final approval would be much higher

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