Mastercard is known to be the second largest card scheme in the European Economic Area (EEA) in terms of consumer card issuing and value of transactions, according to the EU Commission statement.
“The European Commission has fined Mastercard €570 566 000 for limiting the possibility of merchants to benefit from better conditions offered by banks established elsewhere in the Single Market, in breach of EU antitrust rules”, the Commission said in a press release.
According to the Commission, Mastercard’s rules obliged recipient banks to apply the interchange fees of the country where the retailer was located.
“Prior to 9 December 2015, when the Interchange Fee Regulation introduced caps, interchange fees varied considerably from one country to another in the EEA. 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”, the press release continued.
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The Commission concluded that Mastercard’s rules until 9 December 2015 infringed “Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which prohibits agreements between companies or decisions by an association of undertakings that prevent, restrict or distort competition within the EU’s Single Market”.
An antitrust probe was opened into the New York-based financial services company in 2013. Two years later, the EU regulator capped interchange fees, drastically reducing retailers’ costs.