On July 9, 2015 the European Commission formally charged MasterCard with alleged infringements of EU competition law under TFEU, Article 101(1) which prohibits anti-competitive agreements.

The Commission has taken the preliminary view that MasterCard and the financial institutions that issue MasterCard branded cards to cardholders, or process transactions with those cards for retailers, form an association of undertakings. The specific concerns which form the Statement of Objections (SO) relate to MasterCard’s rules on cross-border acquiring - which prevent banks offering lower interchange fees to retailers from other Member States for services to receive card payments -  and the levels of MasterCard’s inter-regional interchange fees.

What this means for you

The SO is a statement of the Commission’s case and is not a decision.  MasterCard is now able to prepare a response and may request an oral hearing.  After considering MasterCard’s response, the Commission will publish its final decision. If the Commission concludes that there has been an infringement and MasterCard does not make changes voluntarily to address the Commission’s concerns, the Commission has the power to impose fines on MasterCard of up to 10% of its group world-wide turnover.