On 5 April 2011, the French Competition Authority (the
'Authority') published a commitments proposal for the Bank
Cards Group (the 'Group') which has the aim of decreasing
most inter-bank fees on card payments.
This proposal has been submitted by the Group with a view to
invoking the settlement procedure and to try to resolve the
competition issues raised by the Authority regarding the level of
These competition issues mainly concerned the method for
calculating inter-bank fees related to card payments. The Group was
suspected of assisting anticompetitive agreements between its
members (being the main retail banks in France), in order to impose
excessive inter-bank fees for card payments.
The legal issue at stake was whether the amount of the
inter-bank fees for card payments could be justified by the Group,
however the Group failed to provide enough objective and recent
data to justify this amount. The setting of the fees occurred on
the establishment of the inter-bank payment system and had become
Notably, the proposal of commitments, which will be valid for
five years, provides for a drop of approximately 25% in the amount
of inter-bank fees paid by a retailer's bank to a
cardholder's bank. The Group, however, proposes to retain the
current amount of cash withdrawal inter-bank fees.
The Authority is currently market testing the proposed
commitments until 5 May 2011, allowing the stakeholders to express
their opinion on the proposed terms. If the Authority considers
that the latter do not resolve the competition issues expressed,
the case will be examined under the formal infringement
Finally, this proposal of commitments has to be placed in the
context of the Authority's investigation into the French
banking sector, which led to its decision of 20 September 2010
which fined eleven banks a total of €384.9 million for
colluding on inter-bank cheque fees (see Community Week
To view Community Week, Issue 517 – 15 April 2011 in
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