If the banking industry has the upper hand in the fight over swipe fees — and it certainly appears to — its advantage stems in no small part from divisions within the eight million retailers in the United States. It's always easier to defeat a divided enemy than a united one.

Merchants that have signed onto a $7.25 billion settlement agreement argue they are unlikely to get a better deal anytime soon, while dissenters contend that no deal at all would be better than what they see as an insider's bargain that lopsidedly favors the banks.

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