ARLINGTON, VA – Food Marketing Institute (FMI) issued the following statement regarding the U.S. Supreme Court’s announcement yesterday to reconsider allegations that American Express Co. card acceptance rules violate antitrust laws by prohibiting merchants from steering customers to cards with lower fees. FMI Senior Director of Technology & Nutrition Policy Hannah Walker commented:

“The Supreme Court’s decision to take up the case could have historic and significant implications for food retailers. In the original case, Department of Justice (DOJ) charged that Amex’s anti-steering provisions stifle competition among credit card companies for the prices charged to merchants and that Amex failed to establish any procompetitive benefits. 

“The 2015 trial court’s decision was a clear victory for the merchant community, finally offering the first seed of competition and transparency into the credit card market. With a rule change, a grocer would be able to discuss the cost of accepting one card over another with its customer. Additionally, a merchant could offer discounts, rewards, and other incentives to encourage a customer to use one card brand over another. 

“Each year, U.S. merchants pay an estimated $88 billion* in processing fees, which is just more revenue for the banks and credit card companies. We are encouraged that the Supreme Court will rule in favor of free market competition when the justices hear arguments early next year.”

*2017 HSN Consultants, Inc. THE NILSON REPORT, May 2017, Issue 1109