The European Commission has bashed Mastercard with a EUR570 million fine for obstructing merchant access to low-cost cross-border payment services.
The financial penalty flows from an anti-trust investigation which kicked off in April 2013 and concluded that Mastercard's rules prevented retailers from benefiting from lower fees and restricted competition between banks cross border, in breach of EU antitrust rules.
The infringement ended when Mastercard amended its rules in view of the entry into force on new regulations of interchange fee caps in December 2015.
Prior to that, Mastercard obliged acquiring banks to apply the interchange fees of the country where the retailer was located. As a result, retailers in high-interchange fee countries could not benefit from lower interchange fees offered by an acquiring bank located in another Member State.
Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, says: “European consumers use payment cards every day, when they buy food or clothes or make purchases online. By preventing merchants from shopping around for better conditions offered by banks in other Member States, Mastercard's rules artificially raised the costs of card payments, harming consumers and retailers in the EU.”