by Grace Barone
The approval of the largest-ever private antitrust class action settlement in United States history marks a significant milestone in development. This landmark case, titled "In re Payment Card Interchange Fee and Merchant Discount Antitrust Litigation," alleges that Visa, Mastercard, and their affiliated banks violated laws by imposing fees on merchants. The court has now approved a settlement of $5.54 billion, providing an opportunity for millions of business owners to claim their share of this Visa lawsuit and initiate the claims process, sparking anticipation nationwide.
The background of this class action lawsuit covers the period from January 1, 2004, to January 25, 2019, during which 18 million American businesses, including convenience store retailers and grocers, accepted credit or debit cards issued by Visa and/or Mastercard. Eligible businesses can now submit claims to recover a portion of the interchange fees, typically ranging from 1% to 2% of their sales revenue, paid over this 15-year span.
Here are the key details of the settlement;
Key details of the settlement include the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit approving the $5.54 billion settlement on March 15, 2023. U.S. Merchants, who have long argued that they were charged interchange fees, will receive claim forms via mail in December, providing instructions on how to file claims. The settlement website, www.PaymentCardSettlement.com, offers information, a timeline, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), and related documents to assist businesses in navigating the claims process.
Legal experts involved in the litigation, such as K. Craig Wildfang from Robins Kaplan LLP and Alexandra Bernay from Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP, express enthusiasm for helping class members during the claims process. They highlight the significance of this class action settlement, which comes after two decades in court.
Certificate Clearing Corp. (CCC) offers an opportunity for businesses seeking faster claim processing by monetizing claims through bidding to purchase them and providing a payout option. CCC estimates that businesses could potentially recover around 1% of their interchange fees paid over 15 years if every eligible party submits an approved claim.
CCC's CEO, James Tharin, acknowledges that settlements of this magnitude typically take three to five years. However, considering the class size and possible disputes over interchange fee data, this process is expected to extend further, possibly lasting five years or more. Opting for monetization through CCC allows businesses to bypass this timeline and obtain immediate financial relief.
Why It's Important
Businesses across the country are preparing to participate in this groundbreaking Visa lawsuit. There is hope for reclaiming a portion of interchange fees paid over the past 15 years. This settlement represents not only a legal triumph for American merchants. It also underscores the importance of addressing antitrust concerns within the payment card industry. With the claims process officially underway, businesses now have options to explore, whether filing claims directly or considering CCC's monetization opportunity, as they embark on a journey to secure their share of the $5.54 billion settlement.
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