Retail Associations Say Record Credit Card Settlement Isn’t Enough

Nine retail trade groups, in a letter to Congress, argue that a $7.2 billion settlement doesn’t offset rising interchange fees for merchants.

It may be a record settlement, but a number of retail associations still want deeper reforms.

Visa and Mastercard recently agreed to a $7.2 billion settlement on interchange fees. Of that, $6 billion would go to merchants and $1.2 billion would temporarily lower “swipe fees” for merchants.

But, as Reuters reports, a number of retail associations, including the National Grocers Association and the National Retail Federation, feel the agreement doesn’t go far enough because it still allows the two major credit card companies to increase interchange fees indefinitely.

So they asked Congress for help.

“The proposed settlement does nothing to resolve the failures in the electronic payment market, and continued congressional involvement in these issues is imperative,” the associations wrote in a letter released Thursday [PDF].

The groups face some opposition. Three House Republicans — California’s Ed Royce, Colorado’s Mike Coffman, and Utah’s Jason Chaffetz — recently sent a letter of their own telling members of Congress not to use the settlement as an opportunity to pass new credit card legislation.

The settlement, announced in July but still subject to court approval, would take effect in 2013 and allows merchants to add surcharges on credit card transactions, CNN Money reported. Some retailers, such as Kroger, support the surcharges, saying they make charges for consumers more transparent.

Mastercard spokesman Jim Issokson told Reuters he’s confident the deal will go through but notes that the judge in the antitrust case, U.S. District Court Judge John Gleeson, will have the final say.

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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