By Foo Yun Chee
BRUSSELS Feb 14 The European Union's antitrust
regulator will accept Visa Europe's offer to cap its credit card
fees for retailers, two people familiar with the matter said, as
the EU strives to cut the cost of paying with plastic and boost
The European Commission says such fees for using credit and
debit cards cost businesses across Europe 10 billion euros
($13.7 billion) a year. The charges are an important money
spinner for banks.
Visa Europe, Europe's largest card payments company which is
owned and operated by more than 3,000 European financial
institutions, proposed last year cutting the charges levied on
retailers to 0.3 percent of the value of each transaction.
The reduction ranges from 40 to 60 percent depending on the
types of cards used by the consumer and other conditions.
The offer came after the European Commission told the
European licensee of Visa Inc that such fees were
anti-competitive and resulted in higher consumer prices, putting
it at risk of a hefty fine.
"The Commission is expected to accept Visa Europe's
commitments. A decision is imminent," said one of the people on
Friday, declining to be named because of the sensitivity of the
The Commission spokesman for competition policy, Antoine
Colombani, and Visa Europe declined to comment.
Lobbying group EuroCommerce, whose 1997 complaint triggered
an antitrust investigation into MasterCard, said regulators
should have been tougher.
"In terms of retail, yes, it is better because fees are
lower for retailers, prices could be lower for consumers, but
the fees could be lower," said EuroCommerce adviser Ruth
EuroCommerce members include French supermarket chain
Carrefour, Swedish retailer Ikea and
The EU competition authority said last year that Visa
Europe's proposal covered cross-border fees in Europe and
domestic charges in 10 EU countries including Italy, Luxembourg,
the Netherlands, Ireland and Hungary, and was valid for four
Visa Europe agreed to reduce its debit card charges to 0.2
percent in 2010 to end a separate antitrust investigation.
MasterCard, Europe's second-largest card payments
company, capped its debit and credit card fees at 0.2 percent
and 0.3 percent respectively in 2009 after coming under
The Commission last year unveiled draft rules to limit card
fees on retailers, which need approval from the European
Parliament and EU countries before becoming law.