Throughout the world, its principal business is to process payments between the banks of merchants and the card issuing banks or credit unions of the purchasers who use the “MasterCard” brand debit and credit cards to make purchases.
The retailers claimed Visa, MasterCard and the banks conspired to fix the fees that stores pay to accept credit and debit cards.
It has about $4.28 billion in that escrow, which is funded by a separate class of shares held exclusively by US banks that issue Visa cards.
The card companies have also agreed to reduce swipe fees for eight months, valued at approximately $1.2 billion, according to lawyers for the plaintiffs.
The Dodd Frank financial overhaul law that was adopted two year ago included a measure that cut in half the interchange fees on debit cards.
An additional $525 million will be paid to stores suing individually, according to the documents.
“This is an historic settlement,” said Bonny Sweeney, a lawyer for the plaintiffs.
This trend, however, might see a dramatic change as the Durbin amendment to the Dodd Frank bill that came in effect last October reduced the interchange fees charged by banks on debit card payments to 21 cents plus 0.05% of the transaction, a reduction of nearly 50% from the earlier value.
Noah Hanft, general counsel for Mastercard, said the company believed its interests were “best served by an amicable resolution” to the case.
Visa Chief Executive Officer Joseph Saunders said that the settlement was in the best interest of all parties, and did not expect the settlement to impact its current guidance.
While Visa issuing banks are responsible for Visa’s portion of a settlement, MasterCard is directly responsible for 12% of a settlement amount and its banks are on the hook for another 21%.
The National Association of Convenience Stores, which was one of the plaintiffs in the case, rejected the proposed settlement.
The suits name Visa, MasterCard and numerous large banks that issue their cards, accusing them of conspiring over merchant fees.
They are set by card processing networks but collected by, and split with, the banks that issue the cards.
Implied market share of consumer and business credit, charge and store cards in circulation of American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa and private label, 2012.
We are now starting phase two with credit and debit cards.
The US Department of Justice brought and settled a civil antitrust suit against Visa and Mastercard in 2010.
Implied market share of mono branded, co branded and affinity credit, charge and store cards in circulation of American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa and private label, 2012.
As part of the consent decree, the companies agreed to drop certain policies that kept stores from steering their customers to cheaper forms of payment.
Perceived value among respondents of insurance and assistance types linked to added value accounts and payment cards, 2012 (table).
In December, Visa announced it had set aside an additional $1.57 billion to cover the cost of a potential settlement in the case, bringing its litigation reserve balance to $4.28 billion, according to a regulatory filing.
Mastercard in the fourth quarter of 2011 recorded a $770 million pretax charge, as an estimate of its potential liability in the case, a filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission showed.
MasterCard, however, will now have a chance to increase its market share for debit transactions, which has historically been dominated by Visa as the bill requires banks with more than $10 billion in assets to use separate payment processing networks for signature authorized and PIN authorized debit card transactions.
The case is In re: Payment Card Interchange Fee and Merchant Discount Antitrust Litigation, in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York, no.
Warren Jobs is a business journalist based in Palo Alto, San Francisco. Warren has a passion for financial markets and breaking news stories and loves writing about business news, stock market, and economic opinions that matters most to its audience. Warren spends a lot of time discovering and researching latest financial markets and industry news stories in order to make sure the latest and greatest stories are brought to you first on BigBoardNews.com.