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Wal-Mart Opposes Interchange-Suit Settlement

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Wal-Mart Stores here said Tuesday that it is opposed to the proposed settlement of a civil antitrust lawsuit against Visa, MasterCard and their card-issuing banks.

“Wal-Mart, along with a growing number of consumer groups and merchants, is disappointed in the proposed credit card interchange fee settlement,” the company said in a statement. “The proposed settlement 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.”

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As previously reported, the card companies would pay more than $6 billion and provide an additional $1.2 billion in estimated value to retailers in reduced fees for a limited time to settle claims that they conspired to set interchange fees. The suit was first filed in 2005 and included several individual plaintiffs as well as a large class of retailers.

The National Association of Convenience Stores also said it is opposed to the settlement, but Kroger Co., Cincinnati, told SN last week it was in favor of it, saying it opens the door for retailers to steer customers to lower-cost forms of payment.

Related story: Retailers Split on Interchange Lawsuit

Wal-Mart said it opposed conditions of the settlement that it said would prevent retailers from taking action against the card companies for future “detrimental conduct or acts,” and said the settlement would also constrain innovation in "emerging payment" systems.

“As Wal-Mart continues to seek reform that will provide transparency and true competition among financial institutions, we encourage all merchants to put consumers first and reject the settlement,” the company said.

Last week Minneapolis-based Target Corp. also said it opposed the settlement, saying it was "bad for both retailers and consumers" and that it would "perpetuate a broken system."

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