Kroger Co. is suing Visa Inc. over EMV PIN debit-card transactions, claiming that the card network threatened them with increased fees and eliminating debit acceptance capacity in-store, if the nation’s largest grocer refused to abide by Visa’s stated EMV rules.
Visa informed Kroger their machines are out of compliance with Visa’s requirement that customers be given the choice to verify debit purchases with a signature or a PIN instead of just a PIN when presenting their EMV cards at checkout.
A spokeswoman for Visa said the company was reviewing the lawsuit and would respond “in due course.”
Kroger claims Visa levied fines of $7 million after it didn’t change its practices and said that Visa threatened to cut off Kroger’s ability to accept all Visa debit cards. Kroger said, given its size, such changes would require them to reprogram “tens of thousands” of terminals to give cardholders the choice between a signature and a PIN, which is not feasible, but neither is eliminating Visa acceptance, which they say “threaten[ed] catastrophic consequences for Kroger’s business” given the volume of debit transactions.
“There is no rational basis for Visa to cut off Kroger’s ability to accept any or all Visa debit cards unless Visa intended to punish Kroger,” the grocery chain said in the lawsuit that was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio.
Kroger operates more than 2,700 stores in 35 states and operates under a number of brands, including Ralph’s, Harris Teeter and Fred Meyer.
If this sounds a bit familiar, that’s because it is. Walmart is suing Visa and Home Depot is suing MasterCard and Visa over allegations that chip and signature is a subpar security in a world where chip and PIN is an option.