Bloomberg reported on Tuesday (22 January) that MasterCard has been fined EUR570.6mn ($648mn) by the European Union (EU) for high EU card fees. MasterCard is accused of preventing retailers from looking for better card payment terms at banks around Europe. The European Commission (EC), which monitors competition, said that MasterCard’s rules prior to 2015 forced retailers to pay certain bank fees in the country they are located in rather than let them shop around. MasterCard’s curbs on cross-border acquiring ended when the EU introduced credit card legislation in 2015. The EU’s probe started in 2013 and escalated with a statement of objections two years later. MasterCard, which also controls the Maestro brand, is the second-largest credit card programme in Europe.
The firm last month set aside $650mn to cover the fine, less than a potential EUR1bn it highlighted as a possibility in 2017. The company received a 10% fine reduction for cooperating with the EU, regulators said. According to Bloomberg, 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 said the EU decision “puts an end to a legacy investigation” into “historic practices only” that were in place for less than two years, adding that it “will not require any modification of MasterCard’s current business practices,”.