Visa's sponsorship arrangements for London Olympics 2012 in relation to official Olympics merchandise and the use of ATM machines at official Olympics venues.
Chapter I prohibition, Competition Act 1998 and Article 101 Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union
Outline of case
The OFT has conducted an initial assessment of Visa's sponsorship arrangements with the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) insofar as they confer payment card exclusivity on Visa for the purchase of official Olympic merchandise and for the use of ATM machines at official Olympic Games venues.
Based on the OFT's initial assessment of the facts at its disposal, the OFT proposes not to open a formal investigation at this stage. This is because the OFT considers that the aspects of the sponsorship arrangements under consideration are unlikely to give rise to material consumer harm. Therefore, the OFT has decided not to prioritise this matter at this stage. However, it does not rule out investigating the matter in the future should there be any evidence of material consumer harm going forward.
As part of its initial assessment, the OFT also considered the availability of alternative payment methods. The OFT notes that a number of different means of payment will be available to consumers for the purchase of Olympic merchandise (including cash and the use of cheques). Visa Europe has informally assured the OFT that steps will be taken to ensure that prepaid Visa cards are available to consumers who wish to make purchases at Olympic sites. In addition, Visa Europe has assured the OFT that a number of options will be available to consumers in relation to online sales of merchandise, including prepaid cards. Visa Europe has confirmed that it will be possible to use the balance loaded onto any Visa Virtual cards to buy Olympic merchandise where these had previously been purchased for the purpose of buying tickets to the Olympics.
The OFT has not considered Visa's sponsorship arrangements with LOCOG insofar as they relate to payment card exclusivity for the purchase of tickets for the Olympic Games. This aspect has been monitored by the European Commission.