The European Commission has ruled that MasterCard’s intra-EEA Multilateral Interchange Fees (MIFs) for cross-border transactions with MasterCard and Maestro branded debit and credit cards constitute a restrictive business practice in breach of Article 81 of the EC treaty. MIFs are transaction fees paid by retailers to banks that issue the payment cards. The Commission determined that the charges inflate the cost of card acceptance by retailers without benefiting consumers or leading to technical and economic efficiencies.
The Commission ordered MasterCard to withdraw the MIF system within six months. Should MasterCard fail to comply with such order, the Commission can impose a daily fine of up to 3.5 percent of MasterCard’s daily global turnover during the preceding year. MasterCard has indicated that it plans to appeal the Commission’s decision.