Transparent and competitive EU payment system under threat

Publikováno: 13. 12. 2013

The draft European Parliament report on the proposed Regulation on banking interchange fees (MIF) would water down the Commission proposal so that the majority of the potential benefits to consumers and to merchants would be lost.

 

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EU promise of transparent and competitive payment system under threat

 

 

The draft European Parliament report on the proposed Regulation on banking interchange fees (MIF) would water down the Commission proposal so that the majority of the potential benefits to consumers and to merchants would be lost.

 

Next week, the European Parliament will discuss the draft report by MEP Zalba Bidegain (EPP, ES) on the proposed regulation on interchange fees (IFs). The amendments it proposes remove significant parts of the reforms intended by the Commission to bring transparency, competition and innovation to the market.

 

Christian Verschueren, Director-General of EuroCommerce said, “We must not let the banks and payments lobby hijack this debate. The barriers of the interchange fee must be removed to allow for competition and innovation. We call on Europe’s decision-makers not to be swayed by the scaremongering messages from banks and card schemes, and to have the courage to stand up for a competitive, cost-efficient, secure and transparent payments market which will bring great benefits to the EU economy as a whole. Consumers in Europe deserve it.”

 

The amendments (details hereunder) that are being proposed would perpetuate a system where all consumers, whether they use cards, or cash, and even those without bank accounts, would end up paying higher prices for their goods and the rewards they deliver to their users. They would allow schemes to continue to impose rules on merchants which they cannot negotiate.

 

~ENDS~

 

For further information, please contact:

Ruth Milligan                                                   Marjolein Raes

Senior Adviser, Payment Systems                      Director of Advocacy & Communications

Tel: +32 2 737 05 95                                       Tel: +32 2 737 05 99

milligan@eurocommerce.eu                               raes@eurocommerce.eu

 


 

Notes for editors


Detailed issues with the proposed amendments

 

  1. The report proposes that caps on interchange fees should be calculated according to a ‘weighted average’. This proposal is wholly unclear and not workable in practice for the following reasons:
  • Which average would be taken? Would it be by country, by sector or within each scheme? The danger is that different types of transaction or product would continue to carry different fees, thus maintaining the current uncertainty, lack of transparency and inequality across the Union.
  • High IF cards: it would allow cards schemes to continue to issue consumer cards with fees higher than the proposed caps.
  • Not transparent to merchants: no merchant would be able to check whether the IF he was being charged complied with the Regulation.
  • Compliance: it would require a huge, impractical oversight process: there is no mention of how this could be done in the report.
  1. Maintain the honour all cards rule: Schemes would still be able to force retailers to accept cards with very high IFs, especially commercial cards. The cost of doing this means all consumers will pay inflated prices for goods and services.
  2. Delete the provision on choice of application at terminal: Banks would still be able to configure cards to default to high-charging applications on dual branded cards.
  3. Change to non-circumvention provision: This would mean that schemes could still get round the Regulation by devising new types of fees. These would undoubtedly be passed on to merchants and inflate the cost of goods.
  4. New definition of cross-border acquiring: This would remove all the benefits of central acquiring as a card would only be ‘cross-border’ if the consumer is using it outside their own member state. Merchants would therefore not be able to make cost savings to pass on to consumers.
  5. Dilution of unblending provision: The amended provision would offer much less transparency on what fees are charged for each card. Instead of being obliged to give detailed information per transaction, banks would only have to offer such information

 

EuroCommerce and the commerce sector

EuroCommerce represents the retail, wholesale and international trade sectors in Europe. Its membership includes commerce federations and companies in 31 European countries.

 

Commerce plays a unique role in the European economy, acting as the link between manufacturers and the nearly 500 million consumers across Europe over a billion times a day. It is a dynamic and labour-intensive sector, generating 11% of the EU’s GDP. One company out of three in Europe is active in the commerce sector. Over 99% of the 5.5 million companies in commerce are small and medium-sized enterprises. It also includes some of Europe’s most successful companies. The sector is a major source of employment creation: 29 million Europeans work in commerce, which is one of the few remaining job-creating activities in Europe. It also supports millions of dependent jobs throughout the supply chain from small local suppliers to international businesses.

 

Conor Mescall | EuroCommerce
Advocacy & Communications Assistant
T:+32 2 737 05 89 - www.eurocommerce.eu

 

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