Antitrust Settlement Sets New Restrictions For Visa, MasterCard
NEW YORK – The final parameters of an antitrust settlement submitted to a federal court here Friday by the Department of Justice promises to give merchants and cardholders more choices when paying for goods and services by preventing Visa and MasterCard from enforcing anti-steering bylaws.
The settlement with the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice and attorneys general for 17 states will bar Visa and MasterCard from adopting, maintaining or enforcing any rule that “directly or indirectly prohibits, prevents, or restrains any Merchant in the United States” from offering customers discounts, rebates or other inducements to use any card brand or form of payment, such as cash.
The terms of the settlement will prohibit Visa and MasterCard preventing merchants from communicating the costs the merchant incurs when using a particular brand or type of card, or the benefits of using other forms of payment.
The settlement also will give officials of the Antitrust Division access to all Visa and MasterCard books, ledgers, accounts, records, data and documents related to the anti-steering case, and to interview officers, employees or agents of the two networks.
A final judgment in the case will expire in 10 years.
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York is expected to accept the terms of the settlement submitted by the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division and the 17 states, while at the same time continuing to pursue similar charges against American Express, which has refused to settle the antitrust suit.