Finextra News: Walmart Canada ends ban on Visa credit cards

06th January 2017
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Walmart Canada and Visa have ended their interchange fee standoff, striking a deal that will see the retail giant’s customers in Manitoba and Thunder Bay, Ontario, able to resume using Visa credit cards.

In a brief statement, Walmart Canada says that it has come to an agreement with Visa that means customers can start paying with Visa from today, 6 January. Terms of the deal were not revealed.

Last June Walmart said that it would stop accepting Visa credit cards in its 370 Canadian stores, claiming that it was paying “unacceptably high” fees amounting to over $100 million a year. This is despite the fact that in 2015 Visa and MasterCard caved in to pressure from Canadian competition authorities and agreed to set a voluntary 1.5% ceiling on interchange rates in the country for five years.

In July the retailer began making good on its threat, banning Visa at its three stores in Thunder Bay before extending the move in October to 16 outlets in Manitoba.

Walmart has led a high-profile campaign on both sides of the border in the long-running battle between retailers and card schemes over interchange fees. The firm was one of the driving forces behind the now-defunct MCX, a QR code-based mobile wallet joint venture with other retail giants such as Target, CVS and 7-Eleven that hoped to bypass credit cards, reducing fees. MCX hit the buffers after Walmart began the rollout of its own mobile payments service to nearly 600 stores in Texas and Arkansas in May.

Previous skirmishes between the opponents have been fought out in the courts with a series of claims and counter-claims keeping legal teams from both sides in clover over the past ten years.

Separately, American Express has won a legal battle with the US government. According to Reuters, a federal appeals court has rejected the government’s request to reconsider a decision allowing Amex to stop retailers from encouraging customers to use rival cards with lower fees.