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If you live in the western U.S. and use a bank card with the Interlink logo, then you’ll be banned at Wal-Mart Stores next month. Wal-Mart announced this week it will no longer accept VISA’s Interlink point-of-sale, PIN-based debit cards, as of October 13 at any of its 2,700 stores. On that date, VISA’s new rate schedule goes into effect which will raise the merchant fee from 20 cents to 45 cents per transaction. The decision pits the world’s largest retailer against the world’s largest payment system. According to Wal-Mart, VISA offered the retailer as much as $32 million in incentive payments if the company would accept the new Interlink fees. Wal-Mart handles more than 350 million individual customer transactions through PIN-based or on-line debit transactions annually. Less than 10% of Wal-Mart’s total debit card business is processed by the Interlink network. VISA handles approximately 400 million POS transactions through Interlink annually. More than 50 million cards carry the Interlink logo with most of the U.S. cardholders located on the west coast, where the network was established. There are more than 675,000 Interlink merchant acceptance locations in the U.S. VISA made the decision in June to boost Interlink transaction fees for most merchants from 45 bps +3 cents with a 20 cents maximum to 65 bps +12 cents with a 45 cents maximum. The fee tiff comes in advance of an anti-trust trial between major retailers and VISA/MasterCard over acceptance of off-line debit cards which require significantly higher transaction fees than on-line debit cards. The trial is expected to get underway next year. Wal-Mart is the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit. Wal-Mart will continue to accept other PIN-based debit cards such as Star,Pulse, NYCE and AFFN.

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