The Turkish Competition Authority previously cleared the request
of Interbank Card Center (BKM) to set a joint interchange
commission rate for both credit cards and bank cards for three
years or five years provided that BKM satisfies certain
At the expiry of the 5 year period provided for the preceding
clearance for bank cards, BKM brought forward another request to
set a joint interchange commission rate for bank cards and asked to
continue including the logo costs of Visa/Mastercard in the
calculation of the commission rates for an indefinite time. The TCA
looked into three main factors as part of the request:
1. Evaluation of inclusion of Visa/Mastercard logo to
interchange rate calculations
The TCA previously declared that the Visa/Mastercard logo on the
cards was not imperative to operate the system and thus the
interchange rate and the logo costs are not considered to be
directly related. However, it has been added that the logo costs
may be added to the calculation of interchange rates for the
present time as the use of bank cards have not reached its optimum
level and remained below the usage volume of credit cards. Thus,
inclusion of the logo costs into interchange rate calculations was
regarded as an incentive for using bank cards.
2. Analysis of time-indefinite request
The banking sector is regularly described as a dynamic sector
subject to multilateral developments. Accordingly, aligned with its
previous decisions, the TCA has pressed that a time period must be
determined in order to aid monitoring and development of the
3. Assessment of obligations set in previous investigations
within the scope of the present application
The TCA previously required BKM's costs to be analysed by an
independent auditor and obligated BKM to announce publicly the
joint interchange commission rates on its website. The TCA found
the previously set obligations necessary for the present request as
these measures helped verify the credibility of data used in
calculation interchange rates and moreover helped reduce
information asymmetry amongst the stakeholders.
In the light of the abovementioned analysis, the TCA granted
five-year individual exemption for BKM's request by majority
voting. The conclusion ignited the "five-year or
three-year" argument amongst the members of the Board. The two
dissenting Board Members asserted that the individual exemption
must have been granted for three years as the sector is constantly
developing, and it is envisaged that the interchange rates will be
regulated in future years. The recent restrictive approach of the
European Commission against the interchange rates was also
referenced in the dissenting votes of the Board members. Moreover,
there were two other dissenting votes which argued that the
technical details and the reasoning of such applications must be
evaluated by the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency
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