WATERLOO, Belgium, March 3 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- MasterCard Europe has applied to the European Court of First Instance to annul the European Commission's decision on MasterCard Europe's cross-border interchange fees, and said it believes it has strong grounds for its request. The December 19, 2007 decision requires the company, among other things, to repeal its intra- EEA fallback interchange fees by June 21st.
The company reaffirmed its intention to comply with the Commission's Order while the appeal proceeds, as well as its commitment to ensuring that its payments services remain competitive and continue to benefit its customers as well as the millions of European cardholders and merchants who rely on MasterCard and Maestro cards.
MasterCard said its concerns with the decision focus on: -- the Commission's failure to recognize that four-party payment systems cannot operate without default settlement terms between banks that issue cards to consumers and those that acquire transactions for merchants, which requires the setting of an interchange fee; -- the Commission's refusal to recognize the efficiencies that four-party payment systems create and the fairness of MasterCard's interchange fees; and -- the Commission's inaccurate conclusion that, despite MasterCard's May 2006 IPO, MasterCard and its customers continue to be "an association of undertakings", and its mischaracterization of MasterCard's interchange fees as decisions of an association that restrict competition under EC Treaty rules.
"MasterCard firmly believes that market forces, not regulation, should drive key decisions such as the setting of interchange fees and retailers' choices over which forms of payment to accept. If left unchallenged, and especially if followed by national regulators, the Commission's decision would not only be bad news for consumers but a blow to the European payments industry," commented Javier Perez, President of MasterCard Europe.
Perez continued: "From a business point of view, a payment system that does not allow for efficient recovery of costs is not sustainable in the long term, nor is it desirable because it limits the scope for innovation in payment services offered to consumers.
"The Single Euro(pean) Payments Area (SEPA) for payment cards, launched at the beginning of the year, will continue to require enormous investment and commitment by market players. It's difficult to expect them to expand into new markets when regulation lowers the incentive to take those risks. In our view, the best way to proceed for the payments industry and SEPA is to follow the established European public policy principle of relying on competition to deliver what consumers want."
About MasterCard Europe
MasterCard Europe is the entity responsible for managing MasterCard Worldwide's business in Europe - for Europe. With headquarters in Waterloo, Belgium, MasterCard Europe works with 51 European countries organized administratively into three customer areas, incorporating the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA), mature markets and the developing markets of Europe, stretching as far afield as the eastern border of Russia. Through its network of local offices, MasterCard Europe can understand and meet the diverse needs of customers in the very different types of markets throughout Europe, enabling people to do business in their own way in their own language.
Through MasterCard Worldwide, MasterCard Europe offers its European customers and consumers access to leading payment services throughout the world. MasterCard Worldwide advances global commerce by providing a critical economic link among financial institutions, businesses, cardholders and merchants worldwide. As a franchisor, processor and advisor, MasterCard develops and markets payment solutions, processes over 18 billion transactions each year, and provides industry-leading analysis and consulting services to financial institution customers and merchants. Through its family of brands, including MasterCard(R), Maestro(R) and Cirrus(R), MasterCard serves consumers and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. For more information go to www.mastercard.com.
Forward-Looking Statements - United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995
Statements in this press release which are not historical facts, including statements about MasterCard's plans, strategies, beliefs and expectations, are forward-looking and subject to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made. Accordingly, except for the company's ongoing obligations under the United States federal securities laws, the company does not intend to update or otherwise revise the forward-looking information to reflect actual results of operations, changes in general economic or industry conditions, changes in financial condition, changes in estimates, expectations or assumptions or other circumstances arising and/or existing since the preparation of this press release or to reflect the occurrence of any unanticipated events.
Such forward-looking statements include, without limitation: -- the strength of the company's appeal on legal and economic grounds; -- the company's ability to have its payment services remain competitive and continue to benefit its customers, cardholders and merchants; -- the likelihood of higher cardholder costs and fewer electronic payments as a result of the European Commission decision on cross-border interchange fees.
Actual results may differ materially from such forward-looking statements for a number of reasons, including those set forth in the company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), including the company's Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2007, the Company's Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and Current Reports on Form 8-K that have been filed with the SEC during 2008, as well as reasons including difficulties, delays or the inability of the company to achieve its strategic initiatives set forth above. Factors other than those listed above could also cause the company's results to differ materially from expected results.
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