Wal-Mart Stores Inc. sued Visa Inc.’s U.S. unit, saying the company wants the retailer to use a less-secure method for verifying debit cards in order to route transactions through its own networks.
Wal-Mart filed a heavily redacted complaint in New York state court on Tuesday claiming that Visa U.S.A. wants it to verify transactions made with certain debit cards with signatures rather than the chip-and-PIN protocol.
The world’s largest retail chain said in its complaint that the chip-and-PIN protocol is more secure and would allow it to route transactions across less-expensive networks.
Visa, the world’s largest payments network, long pushed for the U.S. migration to EMV, named for founders Europay, MasterCard and Visa. The technology generates new codes for each card transaction, while the codes on magnetic stripes are permanent and can be copied and stored by hackers for later use.
In the aftermath of the transition to EMV, though, retailers have complained that the fees they’re charged for debit-card payments have climbed. Many have pointed to the fact that consumers’ card transactions are routed over card networks’ signature debit networks, where merchant fees are often more than double what they are on comparable PIN debit networks, according to data compiled by the Federal Reserve.
U.S. Senator Richard Durbin, a longtime ally of retailers, wrote a letter to EMVCo in March to find out whether payment networks were using the credit-card technology to hinder competition. Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, is known for inserting the controversial amendment into the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act that significantly cut the fees companies charge on debit card purchases.
Connie Kim, a spokeswoman for Visa, declined to comment on the lawsuit.
The case is Wal-Mart Stores Inc. v. Visa USA Inc., 652530/2016, New York State Supreme Court, New York County (Manhattan).