Price-Fixing Charges Spread To Debit Market

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A broad group of merchants amended its antitrust suit against Visa, MasterCard and several major banks alleging the companies conspired to fix prices in debit, as well as credit card markets. The complaint, originally filed last November, alleges that Visa and MasterCard are able to set interchange fees without regard to market forces.

"We believe that price fixing of interchange is equally as problematic in debit cards as it is in credit cards," said Henry Armour, president of the National Association of Convenience Stores, one of the parties to the suit. Visa and MasterCard, both controlled by large banks, control an estimated 85% of the $30 billion a year market in interchange fees.

The suit was brought by the Merchants Payments Coalition, a coalition of 20 trade associations that represents retailers, restaurants, supermarkets, drug stores, convenience stores, gas stations and on-line merchants.

The Journal's Ed Roberts can be contacted at eroberts

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