(WASHINGTON) – The Merchants Payments Coalition (MPC) welcomed published reports on Friday that the Department of Justice is investigating whether Visa is engaging in anticompetitive practices related to how debit card transactions are routed for processing.
“The MPC has been concerned about these practices to limit debit routing for years and it’s great to see the Department of Justice looking into it,” MPC spokesman J. Craig Shearman said. “Limits on routing have been an issue both for in-store and online transactions, but routing for online transactions is particularly important at a time when online shopping has accelerated so rapidly during the pandemic.”
The Wall Street Journal reported that DOJ is looking into whether Visa has limited merchants’ ability to route debit transactions to other card networks, which often offer lower “swipe” fees to process the transactions.
Under the Durbin Amendment, passed by Congress in 2010, debit cards issued in the United States are required to include at least two unaffiliated networks ensuring routing options for merchants. That usually includes either Visa or Mastercard plus one or more competitive debit networks. The routing provision in the law was a response to Visa and Mastercard signing exclusivity contracts with issuing banks removing competition from the market.
Card processing fees are one of merchants’ highest costs after labor and drive up prices for goods and services paid by the average U.S. family by hundreds of dollars a year. Processing fees for Visa and Mastercard debit cards totaled $19.7 billion in 2019, according to the Nilson Report, a trade publication that follows the card industry.
The Merchants Payments Coalition represents retailers, supermarkets, convenience stores, gasoline stations, online merchants and others fighting for a more competitive and transparent card system that is fair to consumers and merchants.