VISA

Visa Fights EU Antitrust Charges

Visa is fighting back against accusations that it charges tourists excessive fees when they use their cards in the European Union.

According to Reuters, Visa will present its case against the antitrust charges in front of senior European Commission officials and national competition officials at a two-day closed hearing.

If the company loses the case, it could face a substantial fine — up to 10 percent of its global turnover.

Six months ago, the EU competition enforcer said that the fees charged to retailers who accept Visa cards issued outside the EU could lead to higher prices for consumer goods and services. With the EU looking to cut these costs and improve cross-border trade, the case against Visa is a crucial one. In addition, most retailers see these fees as a hidden cost for customers.

“We welcome the opportunity to meet with the European Commission to outline our position regarding inter-regional interchange fees,” Visa spokesman Richard Braham said. “Visa firmly believes that payment card transactions by international tourists are an important contributor to European economies.”

MasterCard will also be in attendance at the hearing. The company has been dealing with its own antitrust charges by the Commission, going back as far as 2007. And in 2015, it was once again accused of charging excessive fees when cards issued outside of the EU are used within its borders.

“Many consumers use payment cards every day, when they shop for food, clothes or purchase anything online. We currently suspect MasterCard is artificially raising the costs of card payments, which would harm consumers and retailers in the EU,” said Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said at the time. “We have concerns both in relation to the rules MasterCard applies to cross-border transactions within the EU, as well as the fees charged to retailers for receiving payments made with cards issued outside Europe.”

Mastercard has recently been warned that it could face a fine in excess of $1 billion if the charges against the company are proven to be true.

Business lobbying group EuroCommerce, whose members include Ikea, French supermarket chain Carrefour and Spanish clothing retailer Inditex, will also be at this week’s hearing.

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