MasterCard fined €570.6m by EU for competition breach

Credit card payments have been a target of antitrust enforcement for nearly two decades

The company got a 10 per cent fine reduction for co-operating with the EU, regulators said. Photograph: Mauritz Antin/EPA

The company got a 10 per cent fine reduction for co-operating with the EU, regulators said. Photograph: Mauritz Antin/EPA

 

MasterCard has been fined €570.6 million by the European Union for imposing rules that regulators said may have artificially raised the costs of card payments in the region.

The European Commission said MasterCard unfairly prevented retailers from seeking cheaper rates from banks outside the EU country, where they are based. MasterCard’s curbs on cross-border acquiring ended when the EU introduced credit card legislation in 2015. The EU’s investigation started in 2013 and escalated with a statement of objections two years later.

MasterCard last month set aside $650 million to cover the fine, less than a potential €1 billion it flagged as a possibility in 2017. The company got a 10 per cent fine reduction for co-operating with the EU, regulators said.

Credit card payments have been a target of EU antitrust enforcement for nearly two decades. MasterCard and Visa are separately seeking to settle another EU probe into fees charged for tourists shopping in Europe, which would see them avoid fines. MasterCard has also been sued by retailers seeking compensation after an earlier EU investigation found their cross-border payment fees unfairly restricted competition. – Bloomberg