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  • Writer's pictureStaff @ LT&C

Visa and Mastercard Strike $30 Billion Deal to Cut Credit Card Fees, Despite Durbin's Bill Opposition

Visa and Mastercard have reached a landmark agreement estimated at $30 billion, intended to alleviate credit and debit card fees burdening merchants. This proposed settlement, awaiting court approval, heralds one of the most substantial deals in U.S. history. If greenlit, it could potentially translate into reduced prices for consumers as a portion of the savings cascades down the supply chain.

The genesis of this settlement lies in longstanding grievances from merchants, accusing Visa and Mastercard of imposing exorbitant swipe fees, or interchange fees, and enforcing restrictive anti-steering regulations, inhibiting them from guiding customers towards more economical payment alternatives. Swipe fees typically comprise fixed charges coupled with a percentage of the total transaction, averaging between 1.5% to 3.5%.

Outlined in the agreement, both Visa and Mastercard commit to lowering swipe rates by a minimum of four basis points over three years, ensuring an average rate seven basis points lower than the prevailing average for five years. Furthermore, the settlement imposes caps on rates and eliminates anti-steering provisions, granting merchants greater leeway to implement discounts or surcharges based on interchange fees.

Despite the magnitude of the settlement, skeptics raise concerns about its efficacy, positing that the savings could be transient, and fees might persist at elevated levels. Nonetheless, Visa and Mastercard stress that the settlement addresses the grievances voiced by small enterprises.

Experts contend that with this settlement, the necessity of the Credit Card Competition Act of 2023, designed to tackle analogous issues of credit card fees and competition, may be obviated, given the significant strides made consequent to these changes. The reduction in swipe rates, imposition of fee caps, and elimination of anti-steering provisions could markedly enhance the competitive landscape within the credit card industry sans the requirement for supplementary legislation. Senator Durbin's legislation ought to, at the very least, be postponed—if not entirely shelved—until the market has had the opportunity to assimilate the ramifications of this settlement. This landmark settlement underscores the imperative for lawmakers to refrain from intervening in consumers' benefits.


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