New Zealand's Commerce Commission has struck a deal with MasterCard Inc. that restricts interchange rates and lets merchants assess surcharges on credit card transactions.
The deal, made last week, mirrors one that Visa Inc. and the commission announced earlier this month. Both agreements generally are unfavorable to the card companies and come amid similar regulatory pressures on Visa and MasterCard in Europe and the United States.
The MasterCard deal in New Zealand, like the one with Visa, lets issuers "individually set the interchange rates that will apply to transactions using their credit cards, subject to maximum rates determined by MasterCard," the commission said. Merchants can charge customers more for using credit cards as long as those surcharges are disclosed and "bear a reasonable relationship to the merchant's costs of accepting MasterCard products."
Additionally, MasterCard must let nonbanks that "might wish to provide acquiring services to merchants" join its network "if they meet relevant financial and prudential criteria."
Mark Berry, the commission's chairman, said the agreement will "boost competition in the provision of credit card services to retailers in New Zealand."
MasterCard did not admit "wrongful conduct or liability," the commission said.
The agreement also required MasterCard to $2.1 million by Sept. 15 to cover the commission's cost of the case.