NEW YORK, July 24 Wal-Mart Stores Inc,
the world's largest retailer, on Tuesday joined the growing
chorus of merchants opposed to a proposed settlement with Visa
Inc. and MasterCard Inc over credit card fees.
Wal-Mart said the $7.25 billion settlement would not change
a "broken" system of what credit card companies charge retailers
for processing credit and debit card payments, known as "swipe
"The proposed settlement would not structurally change the
broken market or prohibit credit card networks from
continually increasing hidden swipe fees, which already cost
consumers tens of billions of dollars each year," the company
said in a statement.
The class-action settlement between retailers and the two
biggest credit card companies, which is subject to court
approval, is intended to resolve stores' claims that Visa and
MasterCard conspired with major banks to fix swipe fees.
The settlement involves a payment to a class of stores of $6
billion from Visa, MasterCard and more than a dozen of the
country's largest banks who issue the companies' cards. The card
companies also agreed to reduce swipe fees for eight months, for
a total consideration to stores valued at about $1.2 billion.
In addition, the deal would allow stores to start charging
so-called checkout fees to customers who pay with MasterCard or
Visa credit and debit cards.
Wal-Mart said the settlement would constrain innovation in
payments and force retailers to broadly waive their rights to
take action against the credit card networks for "detrimental
conduct or acts."
Among those that have come out against the settlement,
reached earlier this month, are the National Association of
Convenience Stores and Wal-Mart rival Target Corp.
It will be up to U.S. District Court Judge John Gleeson to
approve or reject the settlement, a process that will play out
in Brooklyn federal court over the next few months.
The case is In re Payment Interchange Fee and Merchant
Discount Antitrust Litigation, in the U.S. District Court for
the Eastern District of New York, No. 05-1720.