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12 April 2006

Speech Kroes on Payment Cards competition inquiry

Commissioner Kroes presented the preliminary findings of the Commission’s sector inquiry into payment cards. The report finds that businesses and consumers do not yet benefit from a fully competitive Single European Market in payment cards and as a result are paying more for the use of these cards.

“We need more competition between banks”, the Commissioner said, and “we must allow other service providers to enter the market and bring innovation.” Kroes also called for the industry to re-think its pricing model. Banks collectively set fees that “tax” businesses, and ultimately all consumers, for every card payment. As a consequence, there is not enough market pressure on fees paid by retailers and retail prices are inflated due to card payments.

To deliver these changes the Commission should pursue cases against banks and card networks under the EC Treaty’s anti-trust rules. “We have identified a number of possible individual case investigations”, Mrs. Kroes said.

“Europe lacks common technical standards for card payments and national standards are even kept secret to prevent the entry of competitors”, she said. “This must change.”

Full speech

© European Commission

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