Europe to cut the cost of paying by card

Wed Jul 24, 2013 6:04am EDT
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By John O'Donnell and Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission proposed on Wednesday to cap fees banks charge when processing card payments, potentially cutting costs for shoppers.

The draft legislation will also prevent companies such as airlines, for example, from imposing a surcharge when customers pay for flights using certain cards.

The savings from restricting such surcharges will save consumers 730 million euros ($964.94 million) annually while the broader caps on interbank fees will bring savings of 6 billion euros for retailers, the Commission said.

The rules, which the Commission hopes will widen retailers' acceptance of cards, envisage limiting the fee charged by banks to 0.2 percent on the value of a debit card transaction and 0.3 percent on credit cards. The fee is now as high as 1.5 percent.

"The interchange fees paid by retailers end up on consumers' bills," said Joaquin Almunia, the EU Commissioner in charge of antitrust enforcement, who announced the measures.

"Retailers will make big savings by paying lower fees to their banks, and consumers will benefit through lower retail prices," he said.

A roll-out of the cap could begin from around the end of next year, after the conclusion of negotiations with the European Parliament and European Union countries.

But retailers said the draft rules did not go far enough.   Continued...