Walmart in Talks With Visa to Settle Swipe-Fee Suit

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Visa Inc. are working to end the retailer's legal action against the financial company over credit card swipe fees.

The talks were disclosed in a court filing Oct. 5 in Brooklyn federal court, where several retailers are pursuing claims against credit card companies alleging they illegally fixed swipe fees, according to Bloomberg.

In the filing Oct. 5, lawyers for both sides asked to delay information-sharing in the dispute to "continue to engage in discussions" on settling dueling lawsuits.

Randy Hargrove, a spokesman for Walmart, confirmed to Bloomberg that the companies are "attempting to resolve their litigation" and have asked the court to halt further proceedings. 

Connie Kim, a spokeswoman for Visa, declined to comment.

Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart was just one retailer who opted out of a class-action settlement with Visa and MasterCard Inc. over price-fixing claims, as CSNews Online previously reported.

In all, 19 retailers, including 7-Eleven Inc. and Alon Brands Inc., opted out of the proposed class-action settlement with the two financial companies in May 2013.

Costco Wholesale Corp., Starbucks Corp., Gap Inc., Lowe's Cos. and Nike Inc. were among the other companies to opt out of the settlement, which delivers more than $6 billion to as many as 8 million retailers that accept Visa and MasterCard. The proposed settlement also calls for the two credit card purveyors to temporarily lower swipe fees — known as interchange rates — by as much as $1.2 billion.

The retailers opted out because the settlement doesn't prevent the credit card companies from raising swipe fees in the future. In addition, the agreement would prevent retailers from future lawsuits regarding alleged anti-competitive behavior.

One month after Walmart opted out of the deal, Visa filed suit against the retailer in order to prevent "the continuation of endless, wasteful litigation between the parties," and that "put simply, Visa seeks finality in its dispute with Walmart," as CSNews Online previously reported.

Approval of the settlement — initially valued at $7.25 billion but then lowered to $5.7 billion to account for the dropouts — is on appeal, Bloomberg reported.

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