Friday, December 23, 2005

Dutch competiton authority re-engineers judgment on POS-case

Yesterday the Dutch competition authority NMa issued a press-release to inform the public that in the discussion on the monopoly situation for providing POS-services, it maintains its fees for banks. The eight shareholders of Interpay have to pay a collective fine of EUR 14 million. The NMa has decided to withdraw the fine of EUR 30 million for Interpay.

While the NMa remaines the opinion that it might be possible that Interpay has abused its economic market position, it feels that further research is required to make this case final. In the light of recent events (the agreement of banks and retailers which lowers POS-fees ; the restructuring of the Dutch market so that each bank now competes on POS-fees where Interpay used to be the collective agent ; the actual observations that competition is taking place in the market for POS-authorisation services) the NMa decided not to further pursue this case.

All in all, this is a quite balanced and forward-looking view of the NMa. Why keep on researching the past and determining fines etcetera if all players in the market are looking towards the future and working collectively to make payments more efficient?

Meanwhile, the press release of Interpay does twist the issue a little bit. Interpay states that the NMa withdrew its previous allegations and finds that Interpay has no position of power and does not maintain excessive rates. This is too brief a conclusion which is legally not justified. NMa has not withdrawns its allegations but has ended the work on the case and only withdrew its penalty.

Then again: try explaining such technical detail to the public..... no wonder the European Commission is seeking further guidance on the market abuse issue.