After a long battle, Supreme Court rules in favor of Amex

27th June 2018
Callum Godwin
Callum Godwin

On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of American Express (“Amex”) in an anti-trust case that has been going on for eight years. The case began in 2010 when the Department of Justice and 17 states sued Amex, along with Visa and Mastercard, arguing the network’s terms illegally constrained competition. Visa and Mastercard settled the suit, but American Express decided to take the case to trial.

This week, the court found 5-4 that the restraints Amex places on merchants, which forbid merchants from guiding consumers away from using Amex in favor of less expensive payment methods, do not restrict competition.

In a press release, American Express Chairman and CEO Stephen J. Squeri stated, “The Court’s decision is a major victory for consumers and for American Express. This was a long battle, but well worth the fight because important issues were at stake: consumer choice, fair market competition, and the ability to deliver innovative products and services to our customers, both consumers and merchants.”

Some merchants and merchant advocacy groups, including the National Retail Federation (NRF), have long argued that Amex’s fees are too high. Stephanie Martz, SVP and General Counsel of the NRF, said in a statement that the, “… ruling is a blow to competition and transparency in the credit card market.” This is a complex issue and an important development for the merchant community to remain aware of.

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