Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Visa probe launched by England's Office of Fair Trade

LONDON (SHARECAST) - Barclaycard and other members of the Visa credit card network in the UK are facing a full-scale investigation from the OFT into claims of overcharging.

The consumer watchdog’s move follows a five-year investigation into rival credit card supplier Mastercard that concluded in September. That inquiry said MasterCard had infringed competition law and that the fees resulted in higher retail prices, though the card issuer refuted the conclusion and plans to appeal.

The OFT had been expected to turn its attention to Visa once the Mastercard review had finished. In a statement, the OFT said the collective agreement between Visa and its member banks on the interchange fee in the UK restricted competition and infringed rules. Visa has nearly 90m cards in issue in the UK.

"The OFT believes that, like the MasterCard MIF agreement, the Visa MIF agreement leads to an unduly high fee being paid to card issuing banks by merchant acquirers on every Visa transaction. "The cost of these fees is passed on to retailers and ultimately to consumers," it added.

(source: ShareCast)