An Iceland court has ruled that payment firm Valitor must reopen the merchant services account for an Icelandic Web host that WikiLeaks uses. Valitor, the Iceland partner of Visa and Master Card, had processed donations to the organisation till December 2010, when the US-led financial blockade choked donations to WikiLeaks.
The verdict could re-open donations transfer to cash-strapped Wikileaks, whose head, Julian Assange, called the ruling a “significant victory against Washington’s attempt to silence WikiLeaks.” But even if Valitor does resume passing payments to WikiLeaks’ accounts, it is not clear that it would have any to process.
The Visa and Mastercard system works through a complex process, where the customer making an online credit card payment has a contract with an “issuing bank”. At the receiving end is the “accepting bank”—Valitor in this case—which transfers the money to its “merchant” (WikiLeaks and its web host). Visa and Mastercard effect this funds transfer. It is unclear whether the verdict means they still have to do so. Visa believes the verdict might not hold beyond Iceland.
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