According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, Visa and Mastercard have offered to cap the fees charged on card payments made by tourists in the European Union to stave off fines and end an EU antitrust investigation.
The European Commission announced both companies made offers to lower fees known as interregional interchange fees. The Commission, which has asked for feedback on those proposals, stated the fees are applied to payments made in the EU and three other European countries with cards issued outside of the region.
Card networks like Visa and Mastercard set interchange fees. But it is the banks that profit from them because merchants pay the banks when customers pay with their cards. That means that getting lower fees from European purchases could have deep implications for US banks. In recent years, they have focused their credit-card businesses on more affluent customers, many of whom travel and spend outside the US.
The Commission is worried that the fees could raise prices for companies in Europe, potentially driving up prices for consumer goods and services.
Credit-card companies have been locked in disagreements over fees charged to merchants with officials in the US and Europe for years, according to the Wall Street Journal.
In the US, Visa and Mastercard were part of a group of firms that agreed to a US$6.2 billion settlement with merchants related to card fees.