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Visa, MasterCard OK Bebit Card Settlement

June 6, 2003

NEW YORK (AP) _ Visa and MasterCard have given final approval to deals that will pay more than $3 billion to thousands of U.S. retailers over the next decade to settle a major antitrust lawsuit.

A federal judge in Brooklyn still must approve the deals, which were struck in April just before the retailers’ lawsuit reached trial.

Visa will pay $2.025 billion over 10 years under its settlement. MasterCard will pay $1.025 billion.

Stores will receive their shares of the settlement money based on how many debit-card transactions they processed between 1992 and this year, said Lloyd Constantine, the stores’ lead attorney.

The deals also call for Visa and MasterCard to cut the debit-card transaction fees they charge stores by at least one-third, beginning Aug. 1.

The settlements require Visa and MasterCard to end a policy called ``honor all cards″ _ a mandate that any stores that accept Visa or MasterCard credit cards also accept their debit cards.

Visa and MasterCard each said in statements Thursday they were confident stores would continue to accept their cards.

Lawyers for the retailers, Visa and MasterCard signed final versions of the deals Wednesday. The settlements were made public Thursday.

Thousands of retailers, including Wal-Mart, Circuit City and Sears, filed suit against the card companies in 1996, claiming they had abused their market power to charge high fees. Visa and MasterCard control 70 percent of the debit-card market, by some estimates.

U.S. District Judge John Gleeson is expected to consider the plans for final approval in September.


On the Net:

Visa USA: http://www.visa.com

MasterCard International: http://www.mastercard.com

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