Retail group appeals credit-card swipe fees settlement

The country’s largest retail group is appealing a settlement on the fee that retailers pay to credit-card companies each time a customer pays with plastic.

The National Retail Federation said it filed an appeal in federal court in New York on Thursday, calling the current agreement on credit-card swipe fees “flawed.”

“The settlement does nothing to reform the price-fixing payments system that has let credit card swipe fees skyrocket over the past decade and nothing to keep them from continuing to soar in the future,” Mallory Duncan, general counsel at the National Retail Federation, said in a statement.

Last month, a federal judge approved a $5.7 billion settlement between retail groups and Visa and Mastercard that was supposed to resolve merchants’ complaints about swipe fees, also known as interchange fees. Retailers had argued that they had little power to negotiate the fee amount — usually between 2 percent to 5 percent of the purchase price — and that the cost was passed on to customers. The deal was the result of years of legal battles and constitutes the largest private antitrust settlement in history. For shoppers, it meant that using different forms of payment, such as cash over plastic, could be cheaper.

But the NRF and other retail organizations, such as the National Association of Convenience Stores and National Community Pharmacists Association, said they were not satisfied with the outcome because it did not prevent Visa and Mastercard from raising fees in the future.

The Electronic Payments Coalition, a lobbying group whose members include Visa, Mastercard and a host of major banks, issued a statement in response to the appeal.

“After nearly a decade of negotiations, the court has determined that this settlement is in the best interest of all parties involved,” the group said. “These same tired arguments were raised over and over during the negotiations and would have been included in the final terms if they had any merit.”

Amrita Jayakumar covers federal government contracting for Capital Business, The Post's local business publication.
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