Suit casts doubt on credit card chip readers while feds crack down on mobile wallets

DENVER BUSINESS JOURNAL - The push by credit card companies to have businesses upgrade to chip readers has not gone as smoothly as anyone would have wanted.

Now, several small business have won a key ruling in their attempt to put together a class-action lawsuit against the card companies. At the same time, mobile-payment apps that might have served as alternatives, such as Venmo and Google Wallet, will be regulated more strictly under rules approved by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco issued an order allowing that lawsuit to move forward, CNN Money reported. Judge Alsup was apparently struck by Visa Inc. (NYSE: V) CEO Charlie Scharf’s 2014 comment that his company met “in a room” with other card companies and financial institutions to plan the rollout, saying, “I never saw anything this good,” in all his years as an antitrust lawyer and that the plaintiffs have raised, "a plausible and reasonable suggestion of collusion," CNN said.

The small businesses, from California, Florida, and New York, allege that Visa, MasterCard (NYSE: MA), American Express (NYSE: AXP), and Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFS) conspired to violate fair trade practices and want to get back the estimated $6 billion it cost businesses to upgrade their card readers, the report said. Visa, American Express, and Discover did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment, while MasterCard said it expects to prevail in the end.

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