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Electronic Payments Practice

Constantine Cannon has unparalleled expertise and worldwide recognition in cases involving the payments industry.  Since the firm’s formation in 1994, we have represented clients concerning virtually every major antitrust development in the payments space.  

This includes litigating every major antitrust case involving Visa, Mastercard and American Express since the 1990s. The firm has represented clients with respect to government investigations, mergers and joint ventures in the industry.  

Our payments industry expertise spans the convergence of fintech and digital commerce and payments.  We are adept at helping large, diverse groups of clients band together in complex cases that require significant time, stamina and legal acumen to plan and win. 

For instance, we serve as counsel for the 7-Eleven Group, the largest of several groups of retailers challenging Visa’s and Mastercard’s Honor All Cards and default interchange rules in a long-running multidistrict litigation.  The 7-Eleven Group includes many of the largest merchants in the United States, including Amazon, Costco, Lowes, Starbucks, Gap, Amtrak, 7-Eleven among many others.

Complex Cases, Major Wins

For millions of retailers, our lawyers secured what was then the largest antitrust settlement in U.S. history in In Re Visa Check/MasterMoney Antitrust Litigation. The case was brought by Walmart and other large retailers on behalf of a certified class of four million retailers that had been forced to accept Visa/MasterCard signature debit transactions at supra-competitive prices. Our work resulted in a monetary settlement of $3.4 billion (then three times the previous largest award) and injunctive relief estimated by the Court at upwards of $87 billion. 

Constantine Cannon also secured what was then the third largest antitrust settlement for client Discover Financial Services, Inc. Discover had sued Visa and MasterCard for damages regarding Visa’s and Mastercard’s enforcement of rules that precluded their bank members from issuing Discover-branded cards. The case resulted in a settlement of $2.75 billion on the eve of trial.

For a group of more than 60 merchants, including both Walmart and Amazon, we successfully objected to the $7.25 billion settlement of the class claims against Visa and Mastercard regarding their Honor All Cards and default interchange rules, among other practices.  That settlement was vacated by the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. 

Versatile, Nimble, Experienced

Our payments work extends well beyond the trial and appellate courts. Constantine Cannon regularly represents industry participants, including merchants, fintechs and networks, before federal and state antitrust enforcers and regulators. 

We served as lead counsel for the Merchant Payments Coalition, a coalition of the major merchant trade associations, before the Federal Reserve in connection with regulations adopted per the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act regarding debit card transactions and debit card interchange fees. And we have remained deeply involved in ongoing advocacy for enforcement of debit regulation before the Federal Reserve and the Federal Trade Commission.

Our firm also serves as outside general counsel for the Merchant Advisory Group (the MAG), a payments-focused trade association comprised of more than 150 U.S. merchants and which account for more than $4.8 trillion in annual sales at more than 580,000 locations across the United States and online.

A Leader in Antitrust Issues

Constantine Cannon’s lawyers are thought leaders on issues related to electronic payments. Because of our deep expertise and winning track record, we are routinely asked to speak and write on e-payments developments. Here is a sampling of our articles:

 

Contact us to learn more about our antitrust expertise in electronic payments matters and subscribe to our Payments Blog for news updates and insights.  

 

To keep up with our Antitrust Team, subscribe to our Antitrust Today blog, follow us on LinkedIn & Twitter and listen to our podcast, Antitrust Matters.

 

Does the Token Taxonomy Act Offer “Security” for Blockchain?

Posted  04/29/19
Blockchain and cryptocurrency, which some call the most innovative technology since the internet, should be dominating America’s tech industry. But it isn’t. A lack of regulatory certainty combined with inconsistent guidance from the SEC and the courts has crypto-startups flourishing overseas instead of right here at home. As a result, the Token Taxonomy Act (“TTA”) has been reintroduced in the House of...

Payments News Update -- April 24, 2019

Posted  04/24/19
Legal and Regulatory Developments SPOTLIGHT: The Government's Set a Steep Learning Curve for Crypto Compliance PaymentSource PayThink – April 22, 2019 The market and regulatory forces that fueled a substantial uptick in merger and acquisition activity in the blockchain industry in the U.S. in 2018 are expected to continue through 2019. Cryptocurrency prices remain significantly below their high-water...

TCH Just Made the Case for a Federal Reserve Real-Time Payments Alternative

Posted  04/18/19
By Jeffrey I. Shinder
For many years, The Clearing House (“TCH”) has occupied an unusual space in the payments industry.  Owned by 26 of the largest banks in the United States, TCH is uniquely capable of deploying a set of payment rails that could be transformative.  Few can match what TCH brings to the table.  TCH operates a wire transfer platform (CHIPS), an ACH network (EPN), a check imaging system and, most consequentially, a...

PSD2 and the Future of Payment Services in Europe

Posted  04/17/19
Open Banking is a major topic of discussion in the United States as a potential solution to the lack of competition in the marketplace.  The European payments services directive (“PSD2”) is the most comprehensive Open Banking initiative we are aware of, and its progress is a good barometer of whether such regulations can successfully introduce new competition in payments.  Our London office prepared the...

Payments News Update -- April 17, 2019

Posted  04/17/19
Legal and Regulatory Developments SPOTLIGHT: Appeals Court Revives £14B Mastercard Class Action Law360 – April 16, 2019 An appeals court in London on Tuesday revived a £14 billion ($18.3 billion) proposed class action lawsuit accusing Mastercard of flouting European Union competition law by charging consumers high credit card fees, in a test of the U.K.’s fledgling class action regime.  The Court of...

Visa’s Proposed Acquisition of Earthport – A Good Test for Antitrust in the 21st Century

Posted  04/10/19
By Jeffrey I. Shinder
As the 2020 Presidential election begins to heat up, something unusual is happening – antitrust policy is being bandied about as an election issue.  The reason for this is simple.  We live in an era of increasing concentrations of wealth and industrial power.  While the impulse to look at antitrust as part of the solution makes perfect sense, many of the proposals on the table, including the suggestion by one...

Adyen Offers PSD2 Payments to European Merchants, and U.S. Merchants Should Take Notice

Posted  04/10/19
By David Golden
Adyen (Surinamese for "start over again") is a growing Netherlands-based payment platform. Adyen is among the leading providers whose business model is designed to capitalize on the European Union’s Payment Service Directive (“PSD2”), which requires banks to offer application programming interfaces (“APIs”) for third parties to initiate direct bank-to-merchant payments.  The company recently announced a...

Payment News Update - April 10, 2019

Posted  04/10/19
Legal and Regulatory Developments SPOTLIGHT: UK Antitrust Watchdog Probe’s Visa’s £247M Takeover Bid Law360 - April 4, 2019 Britain’s antitrust watchdog said Thursday that it has opened a preliminary investigation into whether Visa’s £247 million ($324 million) offer for payment network Earthport PLC will hinder competition in the U.K.’s cross-border payments sector.  The Competition and Markets...

Does the Apple Card Signal Apple’s Plan to Ultimately Disrupt the Payments Industry?

Posted  04/3/19
By Jeffrey I. Shinder
Apple made big news last week when it announced its entry into subscription services, ranging from news to video streaming services.  Antitrust commentators, justifiably, expressed concerns that Apple might exploit the market power it enjoys via its dominant platform to undermine competition in those industries.  Obscured by the mainstream press attention regarding Apple’s foray into subscription services was...

The Arrival of the China Pays

Posted  04/3/19
By Kristian Soltes
The payments news last week was dominated by Apple, whose CEO Tim Cook promised that its newly introduced Apple Card and its Apple Pay platform will “transform another fundamental method of payment.” But many payments professionals are equally intrigued by the steady unveiling of potentially more impactful disruptors. These disruptors come not from the innovation labs at Cupertino, but from China. Two companies,...
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