Categories: B2B Payments

Mastercard’s Nets Takeover Hits Antitrust Snag

Based on information from six nations, with the inclusion of the U.K., regulators in Europe said on Monday (April 6) that Mastercard’s plans to purchase a portion of Nets presents a sizable risk to competition on the continent. The payments firm had unveiled plans last summer to purchase three divisions of Nets pertaining to instant payments, eBilling and corporate clearing, Reuters reported.

Mastercard said, per the report, that it did not agree that the arrangement could negatively impact Britain or a European Union nation. The company said in a statement, “We have been working with the European Commission in order to expedite this process.”

The European Commission said it had agreed to a request from the U.K., Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Austria to handle the matter. It noted that the arrangement “threatens to significantly affect competition” in the Nordic region, the U.K. and the European Economic Area.

Mastercard will now need to get the green light from the EU for the arrangement, per a statement from the Commission.

As previously reported in August, Mastercard has planned to purchase Nets for $3.2 billion. The news came amid headlines about accelerating transactions throughout the world (for example, an announcement that the Federal Reserve intended to build out a faster payments system domestically).

Paul Stoddart, president of new payment platforms at Mastercard, said in a past PYMNTS interview, “This is really about the continuation of Mastercard’s expansion into being a multi-rail provider.” The Nets arrangement, he recounted at the time, logically comes after recent acquisitions, such as Vocalink.

In more recent times, the company formed a deal with P27 Nordic Payments Platform to offer a real-time and batch payments system to the Nordic market. Nets, for its part, receives approximately 80 percent of its revenues from services like bill payment in Denmark and Norway. The deal’s immediate effects will be felt in the Nordics, per the report in August.

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The pressure on banks to modernize their payments capabilities to support initiatives such as ISO 20022 and instant/real time payments has been exacerbated by the emergence of COVID-19 and the compelling need to quickly scale operations due to the rapid growth of contactless payments, and subsequent increase in digitization. Given this new normal, the need for agility and optimization across the payments processing value chain is imperative.

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