Fabian Demicoli

Further Commission action on card fees


GRTU was delighted to learn of the
news of the further antitrust action taken by the European Commission against
MasterCard's inter-bank fees. This is excellent news for consumers
and retailers across Europe who have suffered long enough from the
unjustifiably high fees and the anticompetitive practices of the card schemes.

Despite a Commission decision and a European Court judgment, card fees in many
Member States remain far too high.

The new investigation will cover
issues not yet addressed in the Commission's decision of 2007, which was upheld
on appeal by the European General Court in May 2012. The court confirmed that
MasterCard's cross-border multilateral interchange fees (MIFs) were in breach
of European competition law. However, since MasterCard has taken the case to
further appeal on points of law, many national competition authorities still
have not taken action.

The new investigation will look into
restrictive rules on cross-border acquiring and the honour all cards rule
(HACR): these have long been of great concern to the retail sector. The HACR
compels merchants to accept some cards which carry very high fee levels. Card
scheme rules on cross-border acquiring prevent the commerce sector from
creating efficiencies through the use of centralised acquiring and so keep
costs unnecessarily high.

Europe deserves an electronic payment
system which is open, competitive and offers a cheap basic way to transfer
money within and across national borders. This is the way forward for payments
in Europe.

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