Visa USA discloses interchange fee rates

Visa USA discloses interchange fee rates

Visa USA has begun publishing its US interchange fee schedule in an attempt to appease retailers angered by the fees charged on card transactions. The move comes six weeks after Visa's rival MasterCard said it would disclose its fee schedule.

MasterCard said in September that it would publish its US interchange rate schedule on its Web site by 1 November 2006 in response to merchant requests.

Visa says it has already begun publishing its current US interchange rates on its own Web site.

"Being more open about how we operate as a company helps to foster and expand our working relationships with new and existing partners and other parties who seek to better understand our business," says Rhonda Bentz, vice president, Visa USA. £By posting our 'wholesale' rates, Visa USA is providing more clarity into the Visa system."

The move by both card firms follows dozens of anti-trust lawsuits filed by US retailers and trade groups against Visa and MasterCard, as well as many card issuing banks, over the setting of interchange fees.

The card firms have been accused of setting interchange fees charged on card transactions at an artificially high rate.

In a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in July, retailer representatives urged Congress to charge both MasterCard and Visa with violating anti-trust laws over the $26.3 billion in credit card interchange fees collected each year.

But in a statement Visa USA insists that interchange rates are determined "in an extremely competitive marketplace" and are generally "reinvested back into the system to support cardholder benefits like rewards, and important fraud monitoring technologies".

Both Visa and MasterCard are also being pursued by EU anti-trust authorities over the setting of interchange fees in European markets, as well as the UK's Office of Fair Trading.

Visa said last week that it planned to go public in a restructuring that will increase access to capital, accelerate growth and also help address "certain legal claims that exist in some markets".

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