Antitrust: EC opens investigation in e-payment market

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The European Commission has opened an antitrust investigation into the standardisation process for payments over the internet (‘e-payments’) undertaken by the European Payments Council (EPC). The EPC is the coordination and decision-making body of the European banking industry for payments. The Commission will undertake a careful examination of the standardisation process to ensure that competition is not unduly restricted, for example through the exclusion of new entrants and payment providers who are not controlled by a bank. Excluding competitors in the online payments market could result in higher prices for web merchants and ultimately consumers. The opening of proceedings does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation. It means the Commission treats the case as a matter of priority and will gather the necessary information to take a final position.

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 Payments Council (EPC) supports and promotes the creation of an integrated payments market through its self regulatory project the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA). The European Commission endorses the SEPA project as it is crucial for consumers, retailers and companies to enjoy the full benefits of the Single Market and in principle welcomes the development of standards for e-payments. Here to read more.

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