Consumer and retail groups are praising the U.S. Department of Justice's actions against major credit card brands, but analysts are split about whether the moves will result in real lower prices for consumers.
"The retail industry is very pleased that the Department of Justice is taking action against the anti-competitive practices of the big credit card companies," said Mallory Duncan, National Retail Federation senior vice president and general counsel. "Allowing merchants to offer a discount for lower-cost forms of payment will begin to inject competition into the credit card market, a step that the card companies have resisted for far too long. Credit cards are still going to be welcome in retail stores, but consumers are going to flock to the cards that give them the biggest discount."
"The credit card networks and their banks have gouged consumers for years," said Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. "After all, everyone, including cash customers, pays more at the store and more at the pump due to their non-negotiable fees and unfair rules imposed on merchants. This action is long overdue. It will finally open competition in the card payment market, ultimately leading to lower prices to consumers."
But American Express, the company that has not settled the case and instead vows to fight it, challenged the notion that merchants would pass any of their savings from lower interchange on to consumers.