Visa, MasterCard Settle U.S. Antitrust Case; AmEx to Fight Suit

Visa and MasterCard have agreed to allow merchants to encourage customers to use lower cost credit or debit cards — and potentially provide rebates or discounts for doing so — under a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department announced today. Simultaneously, Justice officials said that an antitrust lawsuit would proceed against a third payment network, American Express, challenging rules that prevent merchants from offering consumers “any cost saving options, such as discounts or rewards, for using less expensive forms of payment.”

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Retailers Win, But MasterCard, Visa Catch Break in Fee Deal

Retailers large and small are closer to a years-long goal of lower “interchange fees” – the per-transaction cost charged by banks on the MasterCard and Visa debit cards used by customers. But under a new compromise, the network card giants got a break by dodging regulation now directed at major banks that issue the debit cards, including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Capital One.

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Internet Gambling Law: Card Networks Must Now Detect Betting

Beginning June 1, credit and debit card processors must have “reasonably designed policies and procedures” in place to detect if U.S. transactions are tied to bets placed with Internet gambling sites, according to a finalized rule by the Federal Reserve. But the intended crackdown on U.S. online wagering that was behind the 2006 law taking effect tomorrow is far from certain as its power to enforce such activity remains vague.

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Online Gambling: Credit Cards, Poker Sites Brace for June 1 Law

As a contingent of House Democrats push a framework for legalizing and taxing online gambling, Internet poker parlors and other betting sites are bracing for June 1 – the effective date of a 2006 U.S. law that restricts the use of credit cards and other payment methods for placing illegal online bets. The law was enacted by the Bush Administration with the intent of cracking down on financial transactions that enable the growing popularity of online gambling by Americans.

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Will Consumers Win with Regulated Debit Card ‘Swipe’ Fees?

After years of attempting to even get a bill on the floor of Congress, business groups finally saw enough support to draw a bipartisan vote in the Senate for the first-ever regulation over the fees charged merchants by payment networks Visa and MasterCard. In a 64-33 vote, the U.S. Senate Thursday approved an amendment loosening the grip Visa and MasterCard have enjoyed on debit card transaction fees passed on to the banks that carry their cards.

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Senator: Reform Unfair Credit, Debit Card ‘Swipe Fees’

A leading Democratic senator wants the Federal Reserve to determine if interchange fees – charged businesses every time a customer uses a credit or debit card – are “reasonable and proportional” to the costs of a transaction. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, said he will be introducing an amendment this week calling for the first restrictions on the controversial “swipe” fees that merchants have to pay MasterCard and Visa.

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MasterCard, Visa Profits Signal Credit Buying Upswing

As consumers started spending more in the first quarter, they were not hesitant to use their credit cards as Visa and MasterCard earnings show, with better than anticipated profits and higher transactions volume. Both exceeded Wall Street analysts’ estimates. The strong showing by the two top card processors reflect a resurgence in consumer spending of 3.6 percent in the first quarter, the biggest surge since early 2007, based on figures released by the U.S. Commerce Department last week.

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