ATM Case to be Reviewed by Supreme Court
The Supreme Court decided to review a case next term that could directly impact the amount of money non-members pay for using your ATMs. It also could impact the type of rules that Associations can impose on their members.
Visa and MasterCard both have rules that provide that no ATM operator may charge customers whose transactions are processed over their networks a greater access fee than that charged to any customers whose transaction is processed on an alternative network. In other words, your credit union can’t charge a non-member processing a debit card transaction a lower fee for using a network other than Visa or MasterCard.
In the case to be reviewed by the Supreme Court, Osborn et al v. Visa, Inc., consumers and independent ATM network operators brought a suit claiming that this prohibition violated anti-trust law. They argued, as the Court explained, that the prohibition constitutes an “anti-steering” regime that prevents ATM operators from incentivizing card holders to choose and use cards that offer cheaper fees. The plaintiffs argue that if Visa and MasterCard’s prohibition was not in place, consumers would seek out credit unions and banks that offer access to networks that charge lower fees for processing non-member transactions. Remember this case just deals with non-members using your ATMs and not interchange fees
Aside from the anti-trust issue, the case has attracted the attention of the legal community for two other reasons. First, Associations are concerned that the lawsuit may pave the way for other types of anti-trust litigation to be brought against them simply because they impose rules of conduct on their members. Secondly, if consumers can sue over anti-trust violations based on the potential impact that allegedly anti-competitive behavior may be having on them, then the Court may be opening the door for a whole new round of card-related anti-trust litigation.
For those of you who want more information about the case, here is a link to the SCOTUS blog, which for my money is the best source of information about the Supreme Court.