Trade body launches Visa antitrust suit

16 June 2009

Trade association EuroCommerce has lodged a new complaint against payment card provider Visa Europe, contesting that the company's cross-border interchange fees breach European competition laws.

Coming 12 years after EuroCommerce launched its initial complaint against Visa and MasterCard, the latest suit argues that the Multilateral Interchange Fees (MIFs) distort competition between banks while making retailers pay for benefits that go to others.

Under MIFs, when a customer pays with a Visa debt or credit card, the merchant has to pay a non-negotiable and "completely opaque" charge to their bank, EuroCommerce said.

The fees are agreed between Visa and its member banks, which means the more banks compete, the higher the charges.

EuroCommerce added that research conducted by the banks themselves indicates that the operating costs of a pan-European debit card, including profit, is "no higher" than €0.01 per transaction.

In December 2007, the European Commission ruled against MasterCard, deciding that MIFs breach European Union regulations on restrictive business practices. The company has since abolished its MIFs.

Formed in 1993, EuroCommerce represents retail, wholesale and international trade sectors, with commerce federations from 31 countries.

Become a bobsguide member to access the following

1. Unrestricted access to bobsguide
2. Send a proposal request
3. Insights delivered daily to your inbox
4. Career development