ATM operator Euronet has reached a last-minute settlement with Visa ahead of an antitrust trial over the credit card giant’s fee policies. The settlement was reached just in time, allowing Euronet to secure a two-week adjournment to revise its case against Mastercard. The Competition Appeal Tribunal agreed to push back the trial, which was initially set to be a 12-week affair, after Euronet’s counsel announced the settlement with Visa, per Law360.
The settlement with Visa has significant implications for the trial against Mastercard, according to Jon Turner KC of Monckton Chambers, who represents Euronet. Turner stated that Euronet needs to update the amount it is claiming now that Mastercard is the sole defendant. Additionally, there are some late questions about confidentiality that need to be addressed.
According to Law360 Helen Davies KC of Brick Court Chambers, counsel for Mastercard, expressed the need for time to digest the news and supported the two-week delay. The parties will reconvene on October 9 to reassess the situation, with the trial expected to resume on October 16.
Euronet, an ATM operator with networks in various countries, including the Czech Republic, Greece, and Poland, alleges that fee policies implemented by Mastercard and Visa violate European Union competition laws. Euronet is seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in damages, claiming that the rules imposed by the credit card giants restrict ATM operators’ ability to impose surcharges on cash withdrawals, thereby limiting competition.
The trial was initially scheduled to take place at the High Court in October 2022 but was postponed due to what was ultimately deemed an unrealistic timetable. The case was subsequently transferred to the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) in 2021. The claim focuses on arrangements in Poland from June 2014, Greece from May 2014, and the Czech Republic from May 2016.
Euronet argues that the schemes implemented by Visa and Mastercard not only ban ATM operators in certain EU countries from charging cardholders for using their machines but also reduce the revenue operators can receive from interchange fees. Euronet claims that these rules, along with another provision that prevents ATM acquirers and operators from treating Visa and Mastercard differently, impede competition and are unlawful.
Both Visa and Mastercard deny any breach of competition laws. They assert that Euronet has not suffered any loss and argue that the company waited too long to bring the claims regarding the arrangements in Poland.
This ongoing legal battle between Euronet and the credit card giants will have significant implications for ATM operators and the broader landscape of fee policies within the European Union.
Source: Law 360