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Visa Settles with U.K. Retailers in Interchange Lawsuit

money-bags-_settlement_iconThe war between payments networks and retailers regarding interchange might not be over, but one battle was averted. Visa Inc. has settled a lawsuit with all but one of the U.K. retailers that were seeking £500 million (US$627 million) in antitrust damages stemming from the payments network allegedly overcharging for cross-border interchange.

The 13 retailers in the Feb. 16 settlement included Arcadia Group Brands Ltd., Asda Stores Ltd., B&Q PLC, Comet Group Ltd., Debenhams Retail PLC, House of Fraser Ltd., Iceland Foods Ltd., New Look Retailers Ltd., Next Retailers Ltd., Record 2 Shop Ltd., WM Morrison Supermarkets PLC, Argos Ltd., and Marks and Spencer PLC. Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd., listed as one of the plaintiffs, didn’t settle with Visa, according to Law360, and a 15th retailer, Tesco PLC, settled with Visa in November before the High Court trial began. Two retailers confirmed a settlement had been reached with Visa, but told Law360 the terms of the deal were confidential.

Although Visa settled a case with the European Commission in 2010, agreeing to a 30 percent reduction on the fees the payments network charges on domestic and cross-border debit transactions, the settlement doesn’t shield Visa from future legal actions, and it still faces at least 24 other claims in the U.K. court, Law360 reports.

Visa’s recent settlement with retailers follows Mastercard’s victory in a similar case Jan. 30, when a High Court judge ruled in its favor in a lawsuit brought by retailers disputing cross-border interchange fees on debit and credit cards. The judge concluded that Mastercard’s interchange rates were necessary for it to function as a company, didn’t restrict competition and were lower than the maximum allowed.

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