BENTONVILLE, Ark. – Retail giant Walmart joined opponents of the Visa/MasterCard antitrust settlement today, threatening to scuttle final court approval of the landmark $7.25 billion deal.
Walmart, which has been fighting the two cards companies for years, said the deal “would not structurally change the broken market or prohibit credit-card networks from continually increasing hidden swipe fees, which already cost consumers tens of billions of dollars each year.”
Walmart joins Target Corp. and the National Association of Convenience Stores in opposing the deal, which would shift billions of dollars to merchant groups and allow them to discourage cards usage by \assessing a surcharge for use of a Visa or MasterCard.
Their opposition is important because if too many potential parties to the settlement weigh in in opposition the federal judge overseeing the case could choose to reject the deal.
Walmart also objected to the release from future antitrust litigation, which has been a huge moneymaker for retailers over the years. Walmart led a class of retailers who won a $3 billion antitrust settlement with Visa and MasterCard over different antitrust claims in 2004 — then the largest antitrust settlement in U.S. history.
The retail giant also said the settlement “would also constrain emerging payments innovation.” That might include Walmart’s own $3-a-month debit card.
The proposed settlement would trim interchange fees by 10 basis points, or $1.2 billion, for eight months and end contract terms that prohibited retailers from surcharging customers who pay with credit.