On 22 January 2019, the European Commission fined Mastercard in relation to its scheme limiting the possibility for retailers to benefit from lower bank fees available in other countries in the European Economic Area (“EEA”), in breach of European antitrust rules.
Mastercard levies a so-called interchange fee on credit and debit card transactions between a cardholder’s bank (the “issuing bank”) and a retailer’s bank (the “acquiring bank”). Until 9 December 2015, interchange fee rates varied considerably between EEA countries. Mastercard’s scheme obliged acquiring banks to apply the interchange fees of the country where the retailer was located. The European Commission concluded that by doing this, Mastercard deprived merchants of the benefits of cross-border competition by forcing them to pay (higher) fees set by their local banks.
Mastercard acknowledged its infringement of European antitrust rules and agreed to settle the case with the European Commission. The European Commission’s decision constitutes binding proof that Mastercard’s anticompetitive behaviour took place and was illegal. As explicitly stated in the Commission’s press release, any person or firm affected by anti-competitive behaviour as described in this case may bring the matter before the courts of the Member States and seek damages.
Companies that received debit or credit card payments through Mastercard between February 2014 and December 2015 may seek recovery for the losses they suffered as a result of this infringement. Interested parties who carried out significant volumes of Mastercard transactions are invited to provide information and evidence of their transactions to Deminor.