Publikováno: 13. 4. 2006
EuroCommerce , the European retail, wholesale and international trade representation to the EU, welcomes the main conclusions of the European Commission's sector inquiry on payment cards: the huge price differences observed in the various European payment card markets are the result of unfair and uncompetitive practices of the payment card market networks.
The Commission's findings on payment cards are unmistakable: “ Businesses and consumers do not yet benefit from a fully competitive Internal Market in payment cards (…). Consumers pay 100% more for MasterCard and Visa in some countries than in others. The fees for businesses even vary by up to 500% across the EU 25 for Visa and up to 650% for MasterCard. The size of these differentials indicates that prices could be significantly reduced in some EU Member States .”
EuroCommerce has been striving for more competition and fair pricing in the payment card market for many years. Xavier Durieu, Secretary-General of EuroCommerce said; “ The Commission's findings confirm what we have been arguing for years: the payment card market is highly uncompetitive and lacks any real transparency. The Commission has rightly given priority to the interests of consumers and retailers by concluding that card schemes such as MasterCard and Visa have been charging unduly high fees.”
The Commission also points out that - as EuroCommerce has been stressing for years - “ Card acceptance fees are used to “tax” sales at business outlets, as banks charge retailers a fee for each use of a payment card. This leads to inflated retail prices by up to 2.5% of total consumer purchases and aggravates the effects of rigid market structures ”.
According to Mr. Durieu, transparency and competition - if truly implemented - are key to force the card schemes to charge retailers fair, cost-based fees. “ As the Commission rightly concludes, it is the customer that ends up paying for a large share of banks' excessive profits. The Commission's findings are an important step forward, but we expect the Commission to take the necessary steps to put an end to these uncompetitive practices .”
EuroCommerce firmly supports two other European initiatives in the field of payment systems: the Commission's proposal for a Directive on Payment Systems in the Internal Market and the banking sector's initiative for a Single Euro Payments Area. However, it urges the Commission to ensure that these initiatives lead to competition, transparency and the respect of the user-pay principle in the payments systems market.