Brussels, 1st April 2009
Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said: "I am satisfied that these undertakings will not only improve the efficiency and transparency of the MasterCard payment card scheme but also provide a fair share of the benefits to consumers and retailers. The new methodology for calculating the MIF will help to bring clarity for banks and retailers and also lead to a substantial reduction in comparison to MasterCard's previous MIF. We will be monitoring implementation closely in the coming months."
The Commission decided in December 2007 (see IP/07/1959 and MEMO/07/590) that the MIF established by MasterCard for cross-border transactions made with MasterCard and Maestro branded debit and consumer credit cards in the European Economic Area (EEA), did not comply with EC Treaty rules on restrictive business practices (Article 81). Nevertheless, the decision did not exclude the possibility that a MIF might be compatible with EC antitrust rules if it had positive effects on innovation and efficiency and allowed a fair share of these benefits to be passed on to consumers. The Decision gave MasterCard six months (until 21 June 2008) to adjust its behaviour to comply with the antitrust rules with the possibility of imposing penalty payments for any delays in the implementation of the Decision.
On 12 June 2008 (see MEMO/08/397), MasterCard provisionally repealed its cross-border MIF, while continuing to engage in discussions on a methodology to determine MIFs where consumers and retailers would enjoy a fair share of the benefits.
MasterCard has now given three undertakings:
In October 2008 MasterCard revised its acquirer pricing structure in the EEA, which included increasing certain existing acquirer fees (charged by a payment card scheme, in this case MasterCard, vis-à-vis its member banks in the framework of their adherence to the scheme), introducing a new fee on acquirers, and repealing certain acquirer fee waivers. However, these fees will now be repealed.
In view of the changes to be made by MasterCard to its MIFs, its agreement to repeal the scheme fee increases and on the basis of the information currently available about these markets, Commissioner Kroes does not intend to propose to the Commission to pursue MasterCard either for non-compliance with the Commission's 2007 decision, or for infringing the antitrust rules by increasing its scheme fees or by reintroducing a cross-border MIF.
As regards Visa's behaviour on the payment cards market, the Commission will continue its antitrust investigation (see MEMO/08/170) and will monitor the behaviour of other market players to ensure that competition is effective in this market to the benefit of merchants and consumers.
For more information, see MEMO/09/143.