Visa Europe said it was ready to negotiate lower fees on card payments made across EU borders in a move aimed at avoiding antitrust measures from the European Commission.
Peter Ayliffe, CEO of Visa Europe, said he did not exclude lowering the rate of fees as the Commission might request at the closure of an inquiry launched in March. “When you negotiate, you negotiate,” Ayliffe told a press conference in Brussels on Wednesday (2 April), describing the Commission’s approach to MIFs as “constructive”.
Visa maintains that its fees are justified “on cost grounds” but acknowledges that it has further explanation work to do on the benefits they might bring to consumers.
On Tuesday Internal Market Commissioner Charliee McCreevy echoed his colleague responsible for competition Neelie Kroes by saying that the Brussels line is not in principle against MIFs, provided that they are justified for technical and economic progress or to bring benefits to consumers.
Visa’s fees are currently capped at 0.7% of payments carried out with a credit or debit card. The threshold has been introduced in 2002 after the Commission intervened. MasterCard’s MIFs range between 0.4% and 1.2% of the transaction value.
Visa underlines that its position differs from MasterCard’s, which argued against the Commission’s intervention. “We believe that a negotiated settlement is the right way forward,” said Ayliffe.
In line with MasterCard, Visa also requested the Commission to reach an agreement with national regulators to prevent MIFs from being challenged by member-state authorities after a possible EU settlement.
To show its commitment to the EU’s plans, Visa presented a manifesto in which it commits to abiding by the requirements of the Single Euro Payment Area (SEPA), in particular by increasing the spread of debit cards in order to reduce the use of cash. The overall target is to provide one in five euros by electronic means in Europe by 2015, up from the current one in nine.