Clear charges on the cards

10 May 2004
The MasterCard and VISA websites will soon show the fees charged to retailers who accept payment with credit cards issued in other countries.

The move has been welcomed by the European Commission, which has made these cross-border fees the centre of a long-running investigation.

While the Commission said that this is a "step in the right direction", they did also admit that the move might not lead to lower fees for retailers.

The idea, however, is to take these grey-area charges out of the dark and allow the retailers to know and understand exactly what the breakdown of charges is. As such, according to the Commission, it enhances the "retailers' ability to negotiate the fees with the banks that are part of the VISA and MasterCard card systems."

Commission spokeswoman for competition, Amelia Torres, said: "Merchants were having difficulties and VISA is ultimately responsible for its system. The fact that it will now be publishing the rates brings transparency to the sector."

However, there still remains some controversy surrounding the fees which MasterCard charges for cross-border debit card payments. The Commission says: "Talks are ongoing with MasterCard. We have yet to close this case. We have the issue of Maestro - the debit card payments - and the interchange fees."