EU Commission says Visa Europe offers to cap fees

Tue May 14, 2013 11:54am EDT
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By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Visa Europe, the European licensee of Visa Inc. (V.N: Quote), has offered to cap its inter-bank credit card fees at the same level as rival MasterCard (MA.N: Quote) to end a European Union antitrust investigation and stave off a possible fine.

Visa Europe, owned and operated by more than 3,700 European member banks, came under fire last year when the European Commission said its fees harmed competition between banks and led to higher consumer prices.

Its credit and debit cards account for about 41 percent of all payment cards issued in Europe, making it the largest card network in the European Union.

The Commission said in a statement on Tuesday that the proposed cut meant Visa Europe would charge 0.3 percent of the value of each transaction - about 40-60 percent lower than at present.

The offer, which would be valid for four years, is for cross-border and domestic fees.

But retail lobby EuroCommerce called for the Commission as the EU's competition regulator across the 27-nation bloc, to take bolder action on card charges, especially in local markets.

In addition to cutting its fees, Visa Europe also offered to reform its rules to make it easier for businesses to seek better cross-border deals from competing banks.

Visa Europe's chief executive, Peter Ayliffe, called for a level playing field for old and new competitors.   Continued...

A Visa logo is seen during the International CTIA WIRELESS Conference & Exposition in New Orleans, Louisiana May 9, 2012. REUTERS/Sean Gardner