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The Green Sheet Online Edition

January 22, 2024 • Issue 24:01:02

News Briefs

Class action bombshell targets card brands, Apple <- click to read full story

A liquor store owner in Illinois filed a class-action lawsuit against Mastercard, Visa and Apple, alleging federal antitrust law violations. The lawsuit, filed in December 2023, also implicates American Express, Discover, Chase, Citibank, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Capital One as "conspirators" but not targets. It claims these "entrenched networks" engage in anti-competitive practices.

The lawsuit argues that Apple could have introduced competition in payment card services, potentially saving billions in merchant fees, but Apple, Mastercard, and Visa entered an anti-competitive scheme. Apple agreed not to create its own payment system, limiting payment methods to cards and restricting other payment apps on its phones. In return, the complaint alleges, Visa and Mastercard "offered Apple a very large and ongoing cash bribe." The lawsuit seeks treble damages for alleged inflated fees paid to Apple. The plaintiff contends these agreements stifled competition, preventing cost-effective payment solutions for consumers and merchants. The lawsuit is part of a global debate on competition in mobile payments. In the United States, Apple recently allowed PayPal and Venmo credit and debit cards on Apple Pay, possibly signaling a change in its approach to payment competition.

Google agrees to new app payment options <- click to read full story

Google reached a settlement with 53 U.S. states and territories, agreeing to pay $700 million to resolve allegations of antitrust violations. The bulk of this sum, $630 million, is earmarked for consumers who purchased apps through the Google app store at inflated prices between August 2016 and September 2023. An estimated 102 million Americans will receive restitution, with around 70 percent of eligible consumers receiving automatic payments.

As part of the settlement, Google agreed to implement several business practice reforms. These reforms pertain to payments and payment processing and include granting developers the ability to use in-app billing systems other than Google Play billing for at least five years. Developers will also be allowed to offer lower prices for their apps and in-app products to consumers who use alternative billing systems. Additionally, developers can advertise cheaper prices for non-Google billing systems within their apps for a minimum of five years.

The lawsuit against Google alleged various anticompetitive practices, such as preventing other app stores from being preloaded onto Android devices, requiring key app developers to discourage competing app stores, creating technological barriers to hinder direct app downloads, and mandating the use of the Google billing system by developers.

Visa sued over surcharge, cash discount rules <- click to read full story

Arizona-based fintech company MiCamp Solutions filed a class-action lawsuit against Visa in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in December 2023. MiCamp alleges that Visa's surcharging and cash discounting rules are anticompetitive and have allowed Visa to gain "monopoly power." The lawsuit represents MiCamp and other ISOs affected by these rules and the penalties Visa imposes for noncompliance.

Visa's surcharge and discount rules have been an ongoing point of contention. While 48 states explicitly permit credit card surcharging, Visa lowered the cap on permissible credit card surcharges from 4 percent to 3 percent in July 2023. Plaintiffs also allege that Visa deployed "secret shoppers" to identify merchants not complying with its rules and imposed fines, which the lawsuit likens to "criminal penalties."

The lawsuit alleges that Visa's practices have made cash discounting programs confusing and have led ISOs to stop offering such programs, costing them hundreds of millions of dollars. It recounts an instance when Visa fined MiCamp $70,000 for a merchant accused of a dual pricing violation, leading to secret shopper visits to over 1,800 MiCamp merchants and a data breach. MiCamp's lawsuit seeks damages, including trebling the awards as per antitrust law, plus interest.

Fintech incubator reflects India's digital growth <- click to read full story

India's growing digital-first economy and status as a global ecommerce giant are creating opportunities for players in the fintech industry. Industry leaders and fintech companies like Monnai, EBANX, and AstroPay have praised India's adaptable infrastructure and skilled workforce. Ramesh Narasimhan, CEO of India for Worldline Merchant Services, highlighted that India's demographic profile, with 75 percent of the population under 45 years old, combined with rapid urbanization and 800 million internet users, has set the stage for explosive ecommerce growth. He believes consumer spending will double and ecommerce will expand in India by 80 percent to reach $110 billion by 2025.

A new entrant to India's fintech landscape, Gravity, launched in December 2023 in Mumbai. Co-founders Rohit Maroo and Satish Krishnaswamy, former bankers at HDFC Bank, aim to create a hyper-personalized banking services platform. Gravity's central processing platform simplifies and integrates a bank's software applications, making them more secure and agile without the need for extensive replacement of legacy systems, the co-founders stated. Key figures in the banking and technology sectors expressed enthusiasm for Gravity's potential to disrupt and modernize India's banking tech ecosystem. end of article

This article contains excerpts from news stories recently posted under Breaking Industry News on our homepage. For links to these and other full news stories, please visit www.greensheet.com/breakingnews.php.

The Green Sheet Inc. is now a proud affiliate of Bankcard Life, a premier community that provides industry-leading training and resources for payment professionals. Click here for more information.

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.

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