The National Retail Federation today announced that its board of directors has authorized the federation to go to court to block the $7.25 billion proposed settlement of a federal antitrust lawsuit over Visa and MasterCard credit card swipe fees.
"The National Retail Federation categorically opposes the proposed settlement," said NRF President and CEO, Matthew Shay. "It does nothing to curb the anticompetitive behavior of Visa and MasterCard, and instead ensures that swipe fees paid by retailers and their customers will continue to rise while barring any future legal challenges. The proposal is a lose-lose-lose for merchants, consumers and competition. NRF will take any and all steps necessary to oppose the settlement as it is currently proposed and will work toward real reform of the swipe fee system."
A resolution approved by the board authorizes NRF to take steps including "intervention in pending actions" in order to reach a solution "equitable to the broad merchant community." NRF is exploring what form the legal action might take. The organization is not a party to the lawsuit, and U.S. District Court Judge John Gleeson has not yet fully outlined how outside groups will be allowed to intervene, or if the case qualifies as a class action.
Shay announced the board's decision at the annual summit being held in Denver by NRF's Shop.org division. While swipe fees affect all merchants, online retailers are particularly impacted because most of their sales are paid for by plastic and the "card not present" rates Visa and MasterCard charge for online transactions can be a third higher than those paid by brick-and-mortar merchants.
For more on this topic, visit the transaction processing research center.