Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Commission prohibits MasterCard's intra-EEA Multilateral Interchange Fees

See the press release here to read a landmark decision of the Commission. It's main argument:
The Commission concluded that MasterCard's MIF, a charge levied on each payment at a retail outlet when the payment is processed, inflated the cost of card acceptance by retailers without leading to proven efficiencies.

Well, the discussion cannot be solved and Mastercard will not be able to prove it is right. But neither can the Commission. As I pointed out in an earlier post (ultimate paper on interchange fee by Brookings Insitution). So this is a power game, a legal game and a communication game at the same time.

We should note that at present the multi-lateral fall back MIF allows lots of smaller banks and participants to the Mastercard scheme. Those players would otherwise have to negotiate individually with all issuing banks. And that would be so costly that they wouldn't join the system at all. And I fail to see why the Commission isn't able to calculate those costs of negotation (and view the efficiency benefits of having a fallback MIF). Do they now really expect all members of Mastercard to use the next 6 months to agree bilaterally on new fees...?