Payments News

The Supreme Court’s Controversial Balancing Act in the AmEx Anti-Steering Case

Jun 26, 2018

With its Monday decision upholding American Express Co.’s anti-steering rules, the U.S. Supreme Court unleashed a tide of press speculation about just how payment card pricing, rewards, and network rules will be affected. At this point, however, only a few things are clear.

The first is that AmEx chief executive Kenneth I. Chenault, who retired in February, gambled and won when he decided to fight the U.S. Department of Justice and 17 states (18 originally, until Hawaii withdrew as a plaintiff) when they sued Visa Inc., Mastercard Inc., and AmEx in 2010 over their rules banning merchants from steering cardholders to cheaper forms of payment. Visa and Mastercard quickly settled with the plaintiffs and modified their rules. But Chenault said such rules were essential to AmEx’s business model and chose the risky, expensive, and time-consuming option of a court fight.

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