Kroger is suing Visa, alleging the network threatened to raise fees and cut off the supermarket chain from accepting its debit cards.
Kroger said it has already received $7 million in fines from Visa in connection with a monthslong dispute over the routing of debit card transactions, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. Kroger did not respond to a request for comment. On Tuesday, Visa issued a statement saying “Visa does not require Kroger to route its transactions only through the Visa network. Visa is focused on protecting a cardholder’s right to choose whether to sign or enter a PIN when completing their payment with a Visa Debit card at checkout.”
Kroger requires customers to enter a personal identification number to verify their transactions and then routes them to other third-party PIN debit networks. According to the grocery retailer, Visa said Kroger’s payment terminal configuration does not comply with Visa’s rules and has pressured it to route transactions of Visa debit cards only through the Visa network.
The suit follows a similar suit Walmart filed in May, contending Visa urged the retailer to use the less secure signature verification to have transactions routed through its own network.
To cut off Visa debit cards, as the payments company has ostensibly threatened, would have “catastrophic consequences for Kroger’s business,” the grocer said in the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the southern district of Ohio. Kroger said it processed $29 billion in Visa debit card transactions last year.