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Merchant Credit Card Fee Settlement Inches Closer

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A controversial court case related to the way in which merchants pay fees for accepting credit and debit card transactions went through another development this week, as a judge rejected a request for a quicker decision in the proceedings.

The Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York recently denied the Home Depot’s request for expedited arguments and decisions, and also advised other dissenting retail giants that their own appeals should not be submitted until the final ruling comes at some point next year, according to a report from Reuters. The suit, brought against Visa and MasterCard for the ways they charged debit and credit card swipe fees to merchants large and small, has been mired in controversy for months, due to many previous participants – including stores like Walmart – saying that the $7.2 billion settlement is little more than a pittance for the payment titans.

However, there is a larger number of merchants – about 8 million in all – which support to settlement’s moving toward a conclusion, as they will receive that $7.2 billion in the form of a combination of cash payments and temporarily discounted swipe fees, the report said. The basis for other objections is that Visa and MasterCard took in as much as $30 billion annually in revenues thanks to the interchange fees in question in the case.

“We’re happy that the 2nd Circuit has agreed with us that there’s no imminent harm to anyone from preliminary approval and that is letting the approval process play out,” Craig Wildfang, co-lead counsel for the merchants who support the deal, told the news agency.

Another issue in the case is that the terms of the settlement will make it difficult or even impossible for merchants to object to any swipe fees imposed by Visa and MasterCard in the future, the report said. Those that still oppose the deal also vowed to continue pursuing options to halt the settlement’s finalization.

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These higher swipe fees – charged to cover the cost of physically processing the payments – are believed to have cost merchants billions, but those fees were also built into the cost of everything consumers bought over the time period in question, meaning that it was essentially Americans paying the higher costs. Experts say these charges cost even small businesses tens of thousands of dollars per year.

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