Interchange fees - MasterCard and Visa

The CMA investigated the interchange fee arrangements for UK domestic point-of-sale transactions made using MasterCard/Maestro and Visa consumer payment cards.

Case References: MasterCard: CE/6345/05; Visa: CE/4500/04

Administrative timetable

First Published: 16 October 2012

Date Milestone
May 2015 Decision to close the investigations on the grounds of administrative priorities
December 2014 Decision to not impose interim measures on Visa further to an application from Worldpay UK Limited
November 2014 Decision to not progress investigations towards deciding whether or not to issue statements of objections at the present time.
September to October 2014 CMA considering the implications of the Court of Justice judgment in the matter of MasterCard’s appeal against the European Commission’s 2007 infringement decision and other relevant developments for its investigations
From opening of investigations in May 2004 and December 2005 to present OFT analysis and review of parties’ responses to information requests - Issue of further information requests - Internal governance processes to decide investigation outcome
From opening of investigations in May 2004 and December 2005 to present Investigation, including information gathering (through issuance of formal or informal information requests) and parties’ responses to information requests
Statement of objections issued in October 2005 and withdrawn in June 2006 Statement of objections issued in the Visa investigation but withdrawn
MasterCard (December 2005) Visa (May 2004) Investigation opened

Decision to close the investigations

6 May 2015: The CMA has closed its investigations of MasterCard’s and Visa’s multilateral interchange fee (MIF) arrangements for consumer credit and debit card payments on the grounds of administrative priorities.

The CMA decided that formal investigations of MasterCard’s and Visa’s MIF arrangements no longer merited the continued allocation of resources because they no longer fitted within the CMA’s casework priorities.

The CMA reached this decision in light of the regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on interchange fees for card-based payment transactions (the ‘Interchange Fee Regulation’) soon coming into force.

Interim measures decision published

27 March 2015: On 22 September 2014, Worldpay UK Limited submitted an application to the CMA requesting that the CMA exercise its power to issue an interim measures direction to Visa UK Limited.

The CMA’s decision not to impose the requested measures was issued to Worldpay on 19 December 2014. The CMA has now published a summary of its decision.

Summary of work

The CMA investigated, under the Competition Act 1998 and Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the interchange fee arrangements for UK domestic point-of-sale transactions made using MasterCard/Maestro and Visa consumer payment cards.

In 2009, and again in 2012, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) stated that it did not expect to issue statements of objections (if at all) in relation to these investigations prior to the determination of MasterCard’s appeals against the European Commission’s 2007 infringement decision against MasterCard’s interchange fee arrangements for intra-European cross-border transactions.

In 2009 and 2011, the UK Government, with the OFT acting as lead department, intervened in support of the European Commission in relation to MasterCard’s appeal to the General Court against the above mentioned decision. On 24 May 2012, the General Court dismissed MasterCard’s appeal.

On 4 August 2012, MasterCard filed an appeal of the judgment of the General Court to the Court of Justice. On 31 October 2012, the UK Government, with the OFT acting as lead department, submitted a response to the Court of Justice in support of the European Commission’s decision and the General Court judgment. On 4 July 2013, the oral hearing in MasterCard’s appeal to the Court of Justice was held at which the UK Government, with the OFT as lead department, again intervened in support of the European Commission. The Court’s judgment, which upheld the European Commission’s infringement decision against MasterCard, was handed down on 11 September 2014.

On 1 April 2014, the CMA took on the OFT’s functions and powers under the Act and the OFT’s investigation transferred to the CMA.

On 4 November 2014, the CMA announced that it had decided to not, at that time, progress its investigations into MasterCard’s and Visa’s interchange fee arrangements towards deciding whether or not to issue statements of objections.

News releases 

For more information on the investigations, please see the following news releases:

Historic documents relating to the OFT’s work on UK domestic interchange fees

MasterCard

Visa

European Commission’s work on intra-European cross-border interchange fees

MasterCard

See the European Commission’s website on case COMP/34.579

The European Commission issued an infringement decision against MasterCard on 19 December 2007. This decision was appealed by MasterCard. On 24 May 2012, the General Court dismissed MasterCard’s appeal and upheld the European Commission’s infringement decision. See the General Court’s judgment in case T-111/08. On 4 August 2012, MasterCard filed an appeal of the judgment of the General Court to the Court of Justice. On 11 September 2014, the Court of Justice handed down its judgment on MasterCard’s appeal.

Visa

See the European Commission’s website on cases COMP/29.373 and COMP/39.398.

On 24 July 2002, the European Commission made an exemption decision on Visa’s intra-European cross-border interchange fee arrangements which came to an end on 31 December 2007.

On 6 March 2008 the European Commission launched a new investigation and on 3 April 2009 issued a statement of objections against Visa.

On 26 April 2010, the European Commission announced that it had reached an agreement with Visa on immediate debit cards, which it formalised into a commitments decision on 8 December 2010.

On 31 July 2012, the European Commission issued a supplementary statement of objections to Visa regarding their credit card interchange fee arrangements.

On 26 February 2014, the European Commission accepted blinding commitments from Visa regarding its intra-European cross-border interchange fees and certain other arrangements.

Contacts

Team leader

Brian Jackson (0203 738 6546, brian.jackson@cma.gsi.gov.uk)

Project director

Claire Hart (0203 738 6782, claire.hart@cma.gsi.gov.uk)

Senior responsible officer

Ann Pope (0203 738 6786, ann.pope@cma.gsi.gov.uk)

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