UPDATE 1-EU set to accept Visa Europe antitrust offer - sources

Thu Nov 25, 2010 7:47am EST

 * Visa Europe to cut debit fee to 0.2 percent
 * Legally binding pledge valid for 4 years, effective Feb
 * EU expected to announce decision Dec. 8
 * EU scrutiny of consumer credit cards continues
 
 (Adds detail, background)
 By Foo Yun Chee
 BRUSSELS, Nov 25 (Reuters) - EU regulators will next month
accept Visa Europe's pledge to cut its debit card fees and drop
antitrust charges that could have brought a fine to the payments
network, two sources familiar with the case said on Thursday.
 The European Commission's decision follows a market test on
Visa Europe's proposals in May. The EU watchdog had charged the
credit and debit card network in 2009 for blocking competition
with its debit fees.
The Commission was expected to announce its decision on Dec.
8, one of the sources said.
 The 0.2 percent fee was set to come into effect in February
and be legally binding for four years. It will apply for
cross-border transactions and for domestic purchases in nine EU
countries, including Ireland, Italy and Sweden.
 The European Union executive said in April the fee cuts
would range from 30-60 percent. More than 70 percent of payment
transactions through Visa Europe, the European licensee of Visa
Inc. (V.N), are with debit cards.
 So-called interchange fees, where merchants pay fees to
banks and processing networks like Visa and MasterCard Inc
(MA.N) every time a customer uses a credit or debit card, are a
significant source of revenue for the companies.
 Visa Europe is still facing EU regulatory scrutiny over its
charges for consumer credit and deferred debit card
transactions.
 MasterCard undertook to cut its transaction fees in April
last year in return for the Commission scrapping its
investigation, but has gone to court over the case.
 Visa and MasterCard settled a U.S. Justice Department
antitrust lawsuit over their processing rules last month.
 (Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Rex Merrifield and Dan
Lalor)

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