EC raises concern over Visa fees

VisaEuropean regulators have formally raised concerns that consumers could be paying too much because of fees charged by Visa to process cross-border credit card transactions.

The European Commission told Visa of its concerns about "possible violations of EU antitrust rules" relating to Visa's "multilateral interchange fees" (MIFs) system, which charges retailers for the transactions they handle.
Visa, whose credit and debit cards represent around 41% of payment cards issued in the European Economic Area (EEA), said it was disappointed the commission had taken such a "confrontational" approach.

The commission reached a preliminary conclusion that MIFs harm price competition between banks, inflate the cost of payment card acceptance for merchants and ultimately push up prices for consumers.

Its supplementary statement of objections (SSO) to Visa concerns all MIFs set directly by Visa in the EEA for transactions with consumer credit cards.

These inter-bank fees are paid by merchants' banks to cardholders' banks for transactions using Visa's credit cards.

They apply to all cross-border transactions in the EEA, as well as domestic transactions in eight EU member states - Belgium, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands and Sweden.

Visa Europe said in a statement that it "regrets" the commission's decision to issue an SSO, saying it had consistently sought to maintain constructive dialogue with a view to reaching an agreement and avoiding "lengthy legal proceedings that are in no one's interest".

Peter Ayliffe, Visa Europe's chief executive, said: "As a European payments system, we are very disappointed that the commission has taken such a confrontational approach and was not willing to find a solution to support investment and innovation in European payments for the benefit of European consumers and to allow European payments to compete globally."

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