EU considering new competition rules for Payments

The European Commission is considering rules which will target the high transaction costs experienced by consumers by the lack of competition. The EU Competition Commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, has said this behavior has limited potential growth in the market. The decision on whether new rules should be put forward is said to be ready by the end of Q2, with any propsed subsequent regulations drafted by the end of this year.

In an email statement, EuroCommerce, a European Retailer Association, has commented that the legislation may be too slow and allow payments networks time “for workarounds in the long term”. It also mentioned that a payment should not be “a profit mechanism for the banking sector” Unsurprisingly, Visa has issued a statement rejecting some of the proposals, including one idea for surcharges to be created for consumers with high credit card fees.

This is not the first time the Commission, the EU’s executive branch, has been creating tension with the payments industry – an investigation started in september last year was concerned with antitrust issues within the European Payments Council (EPC). It is scrutinising whether the standardisation process for e-payments excludes new entrants not connects to commercial banks. However, it has recently also proposed 16 measures to increase e-commerce sales – in fact it is targeting to double sales by 2015, by making online consumers feel more safe and secure.

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