Friday, June 30, 2006

Commission takes on Mastercard interchange fees

See this press release to find out that the European Commission confirms that it has sent a supplementary Statement of Objections (SO) to MasterCard on 23 June 2006. In its SO the Commission takes the preliminary view that MasterCard restricts competition between member banks by pre-determining a minimum price retailers must pay for accepting MasterCard and Maestro branded payment cards. The Commission’s preliminary view is that such behaviour is contrary to the EC Treaty’s ban on restrictive business practices (Article 81).

The SO is a follow up on a previous statement of objections. And the Commission is very eager to state that the enquiry is completely unrelated to the Cards Enquiry that is now pending. The direction of the intervention is quite clear from the press statement: either a prohibition or a redraft of interchange fees for Mastercard.