​Mastercard expects $650 million fine in EU probe of card rules

5 December 2018 12:17pm

4 December 2018. By Lewis Crofts.

Mastercard said the European Commission will fine it approximately $650 million in an investigation into rules that might limit merchants' freedom to procure card services.

This decision is separate to a move today by Mastercard and Visa to reduce fees on non-European cards used inside the EU to avoid a full antitrust sanction.

The network is expecting a decision that says it broke antitrust law by curbing the ability of merchants to shop around for different banks to handle their payments, a so-called ban on “cross-border acquiring.”

In a statement, Mastercard said the "anticipated decision is expected to include a fine and Mastercard estimates that it will incur a charge of approximately $650 million in the fourth quarter 2018 in relation to the matter."

A spokesperson for the commission said the regulator was investigating the acquiring rules and the case was ongoing.

Mastercard said it expects a resolution of the probe in the first quarter of next year.

"Mastercard does not expect any modification of its business practices or rules and does not expect that it will impact its customers or cardholders," it said in a statement.

Restrictions on cross-border acquiring became illegal after the adoption of payment-card legislation in 2015.

The commission's decision could create a further headache for Mastercard since merchants suing the company in UK courts have also claimed such rules on cross-border acquiring entitle them to damages.

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