Price-Fixing Charges Spread To DebitMarket

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NEW YORK - (05/05/06) – A broad group of merchantsamended its antitrust suit against Visa, MasterCard and severalmajor banks alleging the companies conspired to fix prices indebit, as well as credit card markets. The complaint, originallyfiled last November, alleges that Visa and MasterCard are able toset interchange fees without regard to market forces. “Webelieve that price fixing of interchange is equally as problematicin debit cards as it is in credit cards,” said Henry Armour,president of the National Association of Convenience Stores, one ofthe parties to the suit. Visa and MasterCard, both controlled bylarge banks, control an estimated 85% of the $30 billion a yearmarket in interchange fees. The suit was brought by the MerchantsPayments Coalition, a coalition of 20 trade associations thatrepresents retailers, restaurants, supermarkets, drug stores,convenience stores, gas stations and on-line merchants.

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