Finance: Mastercard has to pay € 570 million fine

The credit card issuer prevented traders from using better terms from domestic market banks, the EU Commission decided.

EU competition authorities impose a fine of 570 million euros on credit card provider Mastercard. The reasoned by the European Commission on Tuesday in Brussels with excessive customer fees.

This is about the so-called interchange fee. When consumers in a shop or on the Internet use a credit card, the merchant bank pays that fee to the cardholder's bank. The dealer bank can transfer it to the retailer, which allows it to flow into the final price. The costs can ultimately be passed on to all consumers, including those who do not shop by credit card.

"European consumers use payment cards every day when they buy groceries or clothes or order something online, and Mastercard's regulations have prevented merchants from obtaining better terms from banks in other Member States," said EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager. "The cost of card payments has been artificially inflated – to the detriment of consumers and retailers in the EU."

According to the European Commission, Mastercard violated EU antitrust law until 2015. Under Mastercard's rules, the merchant banks had until then had to apply the charges of the country in which the retailer was established.

Interchange fees were harmonized across Europe at the end of 2015. Until then, they differed considerably from country to country. Traders in EU states with high fees were therefore forced to charge higher costs.

The Brussels authorities now concluded that this led to an artificial restriction of the EU internal market and a restriction of cross-border competition. Mastercard has recognized the violations, it was said, therefore, the penalty was reduced by 10 percent.

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