Visa Europe Hit on Interchange
The company's fee guidelines prevent competition among Visa-issuing banks and drive up the costs for stores accepting credit cards, the European Commission said in a statement.
Five days after settling with MasterCard, Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes is seeking further fee reductions on the $2.1 trillion of annual card payments in the 27-nation bloc. Visa Europe, operator of the largest card network in the region, argued its system benefits consumers.
The European Retail Round Table, an advocacy group for merchants including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Carrefour SA, has complained that the fee at issue raises costs by 13.5 billion euros a year.
Visa Europe separated from Visa Inc. before the U.S. card company's initial public offering about a year ago. The London-based company, which is owned by its member banks, has sought an agreement with the commission on interchange since a previous settlement expired at the end of 2007, according to the company.