Brazil's antitrust watchdog rejects Itau Unibanco appeal on card processor case

FILE PHOTO: A man walks past an Itau Unibanco logo in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil September 6, 2017. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazilian antitrust watchdog Cade on Wednesday rejected Itau Unibanco Holding SA's ITUB4.SA appeal on a case involving its payments processor Rede for alleged anticompetitive practices.

Cade determined that Itau cannot demand that merchants have checking accounts at the bank as a condition for pre-payment of sales by credit cards. If the bank does not comply with the decision, it is subject to a 250,000 reais ($59,574) fine per day.

Itau said it will continue to offer prepayments requiring clients to have checking accounts in the bank, as it obtained an injunction earlier this month allowing it to do so. The bank also said its practices do not differ those of from rivals.

Itau said in April it would prepay small and mid-sized merchants in two days after the sales with no interest rates, sharply reducing the usual 30-day period in Brazil, in an unprecedented market move. As an eligibility condition, Itau demanded merchants receive all payments in a checking account in the bank.

Cade said in October Itau’s move hindered competition in the medium term.

Reporting by Gabriel Ponte, in Brasilia; Additional reporting and writing by Carolina Mandl; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Bill Berkrot