Scott+Scott is currently investigating a potential unlawful agreement to block competition and keep transaction costs high for merchants. This agreement appears to involve Apple and key players in the Point-of-Sale Payment Card Network Services market such as Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover, collectively referred to as the “Legacy Credit Card Companies.” The Legacy Credit Card Companies have maintained a stronghold on the United States Point-of-Sale (“POS”) Payment Card Network Services market since the 1960s. Despite Apple’s initial potential to revolutionize this market with the introduction of Apple Pay, a different scenario unfolded. Evidence suggests that Apple and the established Legacy Credit Card Companies reached an agreement to divide the market among themselves — blocking competition and allowing them to squeeze merchants with high transaction fees together.
Instead of using its iPhone capabilities to establish an independent POS transaction payment network to make transactions cheaper for merchants and consumers, Apple agreed not to compete with Legacy Credit Card Companies. Apple also blocked third-party access to crucial hardware that could have enabled other mobile payment solutions to enter the market and compete against the Legacy Credit Card Companies. This competition would have caused the Legacy Credit Card Companies to fight to keep merchant business and drive transaction costs down for fear of losing business to cheaper alternatives. Instead, Apple agreed to close the doors to competition and in exchange, the Legacy Credit Card Companies paid Apple substantial amounts in annual kickbacks, ranging from hundreds of millions to billions of dollars.
In a healthy and fair market, Apple, Legacy Credit Card Companies, and third parties would compete on merchant fees — keeping merchant fees competitive and fair. Apple’s agreement removes this competition and enables Legacy Credit Card Companies to continue their dominance of the market. As a result, merchants are forced to participate in an unfair market of POS Payment Card Network Services and overpay their merchant fees.
Scott+Scott is investigating these allegations and working to compensate merchants harmed by this kickback scheme through litigation.
ARE YOU A MERCHANT THAT ALLOWS APPLE PAY? WOULD YOU LIKE TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS INVESTIGATION?
If you are a merchant who accepted Apple Pay at your point-of-sale system within the last four years, you may be eligible to participate in an antitrust claim against Apple. To find out if you are eligible, fill out the form below and an attorney will reach out to you to discuss your legal rights; there is no cost.