Fabian Demicoli

GRTU backs EuroCommerce’s complaint against Visa Europe

 12 years after its initial complaint against Visa and MasterCard, EuroCommerce is today lodging a new complaint against Visa Europe.

The European retail association argues that the fees, set by Visa and its member banks and imposed on retailers, constitute an infringement of European competition law. It was the imposition of exactly such fees which led the European Commission to rule against MasterCard in December 2007. EuroCommerce calls for the same robust decision against Visa.

At the core of the complaint is the infamous Multilateral Interchange Fee (MIF): when a customer pays with a Visa debit or credit card, the merchant has to pay to his bank a non-negotiable and completely opaque amount. The fact that retailers pay for benefits which go to others distorts competition between banks: the more banks compete, the higher the prices.

"The Visa interchange fee procedure is completely unfair", says Xavier Durieu, Secretary General of EuroCommerce. "Retailers are forced to pay for a range of services from which they do not benefit. Bank rates are the only services which retailers, even the largest ones, are not able to negotiate".

Furthermore, EuroCommerce does not regard new rates published by Visa on 11 March 2009 as a fair amount either, while MasterCard rates on cross-border transactions are zero. Studies published by the bank themselves reveal that the cost of running a pan-European debit card, profit included, is not higher than 1 eurocent per transaction.

"We are confident that the European Commission will deal with this new case in the same way they have decided on MasterCard in 2007. In the end, all consumers will benefit from a better functioning market."

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