Card Brand Settlement
Payment Card Interchange Fee and Merchant Discount Antitrust Litigation
In 2005, various groups of merchants filed a number of class action lawsuits against Visa, MasterCard and various financial institutions which issue payment cards carrying the Visa or MasterCard marks. The class groups of plaintiffs claimed that Visa, MasterCard and the named financial institutions unlawfully set the fees charged to merchants for U.S. credit card transactions over the Visa and MasterCard networks. They also claimed that the rules enacted by the card networks prevented them from adequately protecting themselves against those fees. All of these lawsuits were consolidated in federal court in New York for more efficient management and resolution. It's important to note that Elavon and its affiliated entities are not defendants in any of these pending class action lawsuits or the proposed settlement of these cases.
Card Brand Settlement
In an effort to bring closure to these disputes and avoid the costs and expenses of further litigation, the parties involved in these cases have formulated a proposed settlement, which addresses this lawsuit and other outstanding litigation. This proposed settlement has been granted preliminary approval as of November 9, 2012. All U.S. merchants (including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and all U.S. Territories) who have accepted a Visa or MasterCard payment card at any time since 2004 are members of the class. The terms of the settlement include the creation of a settlement fund with an estimated $7.25 billion dollars, of which $6.05 billion will be in cash. It also includes changes to acceptance practices that were alleged by merchants to restrict competition, as well as temporary interchange reductions that have an estimated value of $1.2 billion.
Merchant Claim Purchase or Assignment
Elavon is aware that merchants may be approached or notified by various businesses offering to immediately purchase or seek assignment of the merchant's claim against the proposed settlement fund. Merchants are encouraged to consult with their own financial, accounting, or legal advisors regarding their decision to sell or assign any potential claim against the proposed settlement fund instead of waiting for the court administered claims process and the accompanying payments resulting from same.
Please continue to check back as Elavon will continue to post updates as more information is made available.
- Surcharge rules are changing effective January 27, 2013
- February - May 2013 is the window for deadlines for notice to class members, to file objections, and file an opt-out notice
- Final settlement approval hearing is set for September 2013
- If the decision is appealed, the appeal decision will take place by mid to late 2014
- Disbursements of the class settlement fund to merchants may not occur until 2015 (if final approval is granted and not modified on appeal.)
- Cash settlement of $6.05 billion due to the class plaintiffs; may be reduced depending on merchants opting out of the proposed settlement.
- Credit interchange fees on U.S. Visa and MasterCard consumer and commercial credit cards will be reduced by 10 bps for a period of 8 months. The 8 month period for the calculation will start July 29th, 2013, at which point Visa and MasterCard will withhold interchange revenue from issuers and place into an escrow account for later disbursement to claimants. These escrow funds will not be held by Elavon.