$5.7B Visa, MasterCard Settlement Approved

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc. won approval today for an estimated $5.7 billion settlement that ended years of litigation with U.S. merchants over allegations that credit-card swipe fees were improperly fixed.

Small businesses stand to benefit, including online adult websites, which are prime plaintiffs given the volume of credit card purchases.

The settlement provides for cash payments to U.S. merchants and lets them begin charging customers an extra fee when they use Visa or MasterCard credit cards.

The nuts and bolts of the class-action suit revolves around the presumption that Visa and MasterCard, along with their member banks, conspired to fix and artificially inflate the interchange fees that merchants pay to accept Visa- and MasterCard-branded debit and credit cards. 

Patrick Jermyn, an attorney with Harrison, N.Y.-based Class Action Refund LLC, who in recent years has been alerting the online adult industry about the litigation and likelihood of payouts, says that any company that accepted Visa and MasterCard credit and or debit cards beginning in 2004 will be eligible to participate in the settlement.

That relevant time starts in 2004 and could go as far as 2012, according to Jermyn, whose firm is one of many class action recovery firms working on the suit.

Because the court granted final approval to the settlement today, the court will approve a claim form and determine when the claim form needs to be sent to class members, as well as the deadline for class members to submit their claims.