Wal-Mart this week filed a massive lawsuit against credit card processor Visa Inc. for $5 billion, alleging Visa maintained high card swipe fees. This comes after Wal-Mart and many other retailers opted out of a class action settlement between other retailers against Visa and Mastercard.
The implications could be far reaching: certainly credit card fees eat into gas station profits, and arguments high swipe fees lead to higher gasoline prices are plausible.
Many retailers have since opted out of the class action settlement against Visa and MasterCard that was approved in December, saying the settlement doesn't bring down the costs of swipe fees, or the fees Visa and MasterCard charge to retailers and gas stations to process transactions.
The National Association of Convenience Stores, or NACS, represents tens of thousands of gas stations which include convenience stores nationally and issued a statement following a decision to uphold rules on how much banks can collect for swipe fees. The decision is considered a big defeat for convenience stores. NASC said "It is unfortunate that the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals misread the law and the Federal Reserve's rule on debit swipe fees. Any rule that would allow profit margins of more than 1,000 percent and raise fees on many transactions clearly violates the letter and intent of the law Congress passed."
Retailers now are opting out of the class action settlement which was disappointing, and suing Visa and MasterCard on their own, hoping a judge find the fees were grossly in excess.
If retailers and stores win new cases, it could cut the amount of fees that Visa and MasterCard take on each transaction. The lower fees could easily translate into either lower credit prices at the pump, or for stations that charge one price, they could consider lowering their prices. The drop in swipe fees could save motorists and retailers billions over the course of several years.
What's your take- do you think Visa and MasterCard should be forced to drop their fees?