by Ty Hardison

Interchange Lawsuit Update

In the seven-year old Interchange lawsuit (Payment Card Interchange Fee and Merchant Discount Antitrust Litigation case), a proposed settlement was announced on July 13, 2102, with an October 19, 2012 deadline to formally request approval from the court. If a preliminary approval is given at that time - a notice of the settlement will be sent to about 7 million U.S. merchants who accepted Visa or MasterCard credit cards since 2004. Then the judge overseeing the case must give a final approve before it can be implemented, which is not expected until the second half of 2013.

In the meantime, opposition to the settlement has grown claiming the settlement doesn’t do enough for merchants. Some trade groups have announced plans to fight the settlement in court. Both Target and Wal-Mart … more

Will the Visa/MasterCard Interchange Fee Agreement Hold?

If the proposed settlement in the Payment Card Interchange Fee and Merchant Discount Antitrust Litigation case is approved, merchants will receive billions of dollars, a temporary Interchange rate reduction and the ability to surcharge card payment transactions. In return, the agreement releases Visa and MasterCard from future legal claims regarding Interchange, network rules, merchant fees and related issues by merchants.

Both the National Grocers Association and the National Association of Convenience Stores say they will oppose the agreement on the basis that the agreement does not address how Interchange is set or the complexity of Interchange fee schedules. Target and Wal-Mart are not plaintiffs in this case, but have criticized the proposed settlement for similar reasons and … more

Payment Card Usage Surcharges

In the proposed settlement of the Payment Card Interchange Fee and Merchant Discount Antitrust Litigation case, merchants would win the ability to impose surcharges on customers who use card payments.

However, according to analysis of the proposed settlement, the ability to surcharge customers includes numerous restrictions and requirements:

The surcharge amount will be limited by a cap established by Visa and MasterCard and by card type (debit card surcharge allowances to differ from credit card surcharge allowances)

Merchants will be required to notify Visa and MasterCard before surcharging begins.

Merchants post signs notifying customers that they surcharge

Merchants must include the surcharge amount of any fee on receipts

Merchants are not allowing a surcharge on Visa and … more

7 million retailers to share $7.25 billion proposed settlement

An estimated 7 million retailers will be affected by a proposed settlement in the Payment Card Interchange Fee and Merchant Discount Antitrust Litigation case.

According to Reuters, it has been announced that Visa and MasterCard along with their card issuing banks have agreed to settle the Payment Card Interchange Fee and Merchant Discount Antitrust Litigation case with U.S. retailers for $7.25 billion. If approved by the judge, it would be the largest antitrust settlement in U.S. history.

According to reports, the settlement will include provision to allow stores to surcharge customers extra in an attempt to steer customers toward less expensive payments (although certain states laws prohibit the practice), will pay stores $6 billion and will lower interchange fees by the equivalent of … more

PCI guidance for accepting payments using a smartphone

Our PCI Compliance and Security partner ControlScan plans to integrate the SAQ P2PE-HW into our merchant portal by the end of the quarter, as it’s expected that P2PE certified solutions will be listed on the PCI SSC website later this year. We will alert our merchants as soon as the SAQ P2PE-HW is available.

The PCI SSC Releases its P2PE SAQIn May the PCI Security Standards Council (SSC) published a fact sheet to offer guidance for merchants evaluating technology to accept payments using a smartphone or iPad/tablet. The fact sheet explains how a point-to-point encryption (P2PE) solution can be leveraged to secure mobile payments.

As a next step in its P2PE program, the SSC has released a P2PE Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ). The new, reduced SAQ (SAQ P2PE-HW) is similar to SAQ … more

Payment Card Interchange Fee and Merchant Discount Antitrust Litigation

Visa Inc and MasterCard Inc are moving closer to a settlement in a seven-year old case named In re Payment Card Interchange Fee and Merchant Discount Antitrust Litigation. Most analyst are predicting a settlement and possibly by the end of July. One of the possible settlement outcomes could be a reduction in interchange fees which is expected to have a negative impact on bank stocks. If your holding bank shares of major card issuers, be warned. If you are a small merchant, we will keep you posted here about what it means to you and anything you will need to do. more

Notes from Visa's Q2 2012 Earnings Call

Visa posted positive double digit gains and says it will “live forever with less share than we once had” due to government regulations.

Visa reported “very vibrant transaction growth rates in U.S. (consumer) credit” and also noted that their commercial credit card side is growing at a good clip. As expected, debit volume declined as banks deemphasized debit and removed rewards programs associated with debit cards that once played an important role in driving volume.

Visa also said “the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division issued a civil investigative demand requesting additional information about PIN-authenticated Visa Debit and elements of our new debit strategies, including the fixed acquirer fee.” Visa says it is confident their actions … more

New April 2012 Interchange and Card Industry Fee Changes

April 2012 Interchange and Card Industry Fee Changes As you know, Vantage provides the most transparent, direct pass-through of the payment industry’s universally established Interchange, Assessment and Access fee schedules.

This April, a whole new set of card fees are being introduced. Vantage reports on and tracks these industry fee changes as they occur on our web site and this resource is often use by reporters and market analyst as well as merchants, businesses and banks. We also post about the payments industry and card Interchange on our blog. In July 2011 we first alerted merchants to the Visa announcement to charge a new location fee.

Vantage passed through all the Fed regulated debit rates to our clients. We posted a Vantage Study Revealing the Results of Fed Regulated Debit in October. And while Vantage clients took … more

Global Payments Reports “Unauthorized Access”

Global Payments identifies and self-reports unauthorized access into a small portion of its processing system limited to track 2 card data only (no track 1 card data, no names, no social security numbers and no bank account information was compromised).

Global Payments reports incident does not involve our merchants or their relationships with their customers. Global Payments continues to provide uninterrupted processing services.

ATLANTA March 30, 2012 – Global Payments Inc. (NYSE: GPN), a leader in payment processing services, announced it identified and self-reported unauthorized access into a portion of its processing system. In early March 2012, the company determined card data may have been accessed. It immediately engaged external experts in information technology … more

Don’t Let Your Bank Hide Fees

PayView Like his previous article discussing the merchant services industry, Michael Conticelli has done it again with a must read insightful report in the Ft. Myers Small Business Examiner titled “New trend in merchant statements hides rates and fees”.

Michael specifically calls out SunTrust for purposely redesigning their merchant statements to eliminate all rate and fee detail, leaving merchants no clue as to how charges are calculated. SunTrust made the decision to keep merchants in the dark about their “surcharge fees, bill backs, annual fees, PCI fees, etc.” because when merchants “don’t actually see the rates and fees month after month” they can’t ask questions.

Michael warns “Merchants need to be vigilant in monitoring their merchant … more