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18 July 2012

Merchants Reach $7.25B Interchange Settlement with Visa and MasterCard

Visa announced that it, MasterCard, and several major US issuers have reached a $7.25 billion class-action settlement with US merchants that accept Visa and MasterCard credit cards and debit cards. Specific terms of the agreement include:

- Distribution to class merchants of an amount equal to 10 basis points of default interchange across all credit rate categories for a period of eight consecutive months, which otherwise would have been paid to issuers and which effectively reduces credit interchange for that period of time. This effective reduction will be distributed by a process designed to ensure that all class retailers, large and small, are able to receive the reduction. The eight-month period for the reduction would begin within 60 days after completion of the court-ordered period during which individual class members may opt out of this settlement, or approximately mid-2013.

- Modifications to Visa's rules to permit retailers to impose a surcharge on credit transactions subject to a cap and a level playing field with other general purpose card competitors. The rule changes on surcharging likely would be implemented in early 2013.

- Agreement that Visa will meet with merchant buying groups that seek to negotiate interchange rates collectively (e.g., independent drug stores). Visa retains discretion to accept or reject a proposal based on whether the Company believes it is commercially reasonable.

- For the quarter ending June 30, 2012, Visa intends to record a litigation charge of approximately $4.1 billion, which will increase its total FAS 5 reserve for the litigation covered by the Retrospective Responsibility Plan from $285 million to approximately $4.4 billion, to reflect the Class Plaintiffs' Settlement Agreement and management's current estimate to resolve the Individual Plaintiffs' claims.

The card-issuing banks participating in the settlement include JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citibank, Wells Fargo, Capital One among others. 


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