Industry News | September 25, 2012

NRA Speaks Out Against Proposed Swipe Fee Settlement

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The National Restaurant Association (NRA) issued the following statement, expressing opposition to the terms contained within a proposed swipe fee antitrust settlement.

“After careful and deliberative considerations, the National Restaurant Association Board of Directors’ Executive Committee decided unanimously to reject the proposed settlement agreement on interchange swipe fees,” says Dawn Sweeney, president and CEO of the NRA. “There is strong concern that the proposed settlement agreement will not achieve the litigation’s most critical goal—to fundamentally change a broken marketplace in which swipe fees are set. 

“Without meaningful reform, there is concern that restaurateurs—many of whom are small businesses—will continue to be negatively impacted by the unfair, non-transparent system that exists today,” Sweeney says.

The NRA is one of 19 named class plaintiffs, which includes six trade associations and 13 individual companies in In re Payment Card Interchange Fee and Merchant Discount Antitrust Litigation. 

On July 13, the proposed settlement agreement between the plaintiffs and defendants (Visa, MasterCard, and many large U.S. banks) was announced and filed in federal district court.

“The current payments system is so convoluted, the average restaurateur has no idea exactly what they are paying and why they are paying large amounts to accept credit and debit cards, which are necessary in today’s marketplace. The proposed settlement does not address those issues,” Sweeney says. 

“Restaurateurs also have no ability to negotiate fees or terms of card acceptance, and after digging into the details of the proposed agreement, we have serious concerns that rather than correct those fundamental flaws, it cements those flaws for decades to come.”

Over the past few years, the NRA has worked to foster a fairer payments system for restaurateurs. There have been significant achievements, with increased transparency of card network rules and rates, and the passage of federal legislation in 2010 that included debit card fee reforms. However, the Association continues to pursue changes that will create a fairer, more transparent system.