Of Special Interest

27th September 2011

European epayment rules anti-competitive investigation

The European Commission has announced an investigation into whether the European Payments Council rules on e-payments are anti-competitive and specifically whether they exclude or significantly restrict non-bank organisations.

The Commission "intends to investigate whether the e-payments standardisation process will not unduly restrict competition, for example through the exclusion of new entrants and payment providers who are not linked to a bank. Such restrictions, if established, could harm merchants and consumers in the market of e-payments."

Joaquín Almunia Commission, Vice President in charge of Competition Policy, said: "Use of the internet is increasing rapidly making the need for secure and efficient online payment solutions in the whole Single Euro Payments Area all the more pressing. I therefore welcome the work of the European Payments Council to develop standards in this area. In principle, standards promote inter-operability and competition, but we need to ensure that the standardisation process does not unnecessarily restrict opportunities for non-participants."

The European Commission sets no deadline for completion of such investigations and should the findings be controversial the consultation and appeals can mean a final decision can take years to emerge.