A federal judge in Washington, DC has rejected a bid by independent automated teller machine operators to block rules issued by Visa and Mastercard that the operators claim restrict competition by fixing ATM access fees.
In a decision on Monday, Judge Richard Leon in US District Court for the District of Columbia rebuffed the operators’ argument that they could be driven out of business if the rules remain in place while their antitrust lawsuit against Visa and Mastercard proceeds.
“Plaintiffs failed to provide evidence showing that plaintiffs (or other independent ATM operators) have been or are likely to be driven out of business as a result of the ATM Access Fee Rules,” Judge Leon said.
The NAC, alongside ATM users and several independent ATM owners, filed suit in October 2011, claiming that Visa and Mastercard’s restrictions artificially raise customers’ cost of ATM transactions and limit the revenue owners can earn. These restrictions are in violation of Sherman Act provisions that outlaw unreasonable restraints of trade, according to the allegations.
The council then renewed its request for a preliminary injunction in February, asking the court to block the credit card companies from charging ATM access fees at Visa- or Mastercard-owned ATM networks that are higher than fees charged in connection with other networks at the same terminals.
But Judge Leon said on Monday that the NAC only offered speculative statements in its attempt to link Visa and Mastercard’s rules to the decline of independent ATMs and operators. Without this concrete proof, the NAC is not entitled to a preliminary injunction, the judge said.
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