Visa Europe Ltd., operator of the largest payment card network in the 27-nation European Union, faces a new European Union antitrust complaint from EuroCommerce, a group representing retailers.
Interchange fees, set by Visa and its member banks and imposed on retailers, constitute an infringement of European competition law, EuroCommerce, whose members include Carrefour SA and Tesco PLC, said Monday.
"The Visa interchange fee procedure is completely unfair," said Xavier Durieu, the secretary general of EuroCommerce. "Retailers are forced to pay for a range of services from which they do not benefit. Bank rates are the only services which retailers, even the largest ones, are not able to negotiate."
The European Commission, the EU's antitrust regulator, already said April 6 that Visa Europe's fee guidelines may prevent competition among Visa-issuing banks and drive up the costs for businesses accepting credit cards. Visa must respond by July 30, a spokesman for the commission, which is based in Brussels, said Monday. Companies normally have two months to reply.
Simon Kleine, a spokesman for Visa Europe in London, had no immediate comment. Jonathan Todd, a commission spokesman, was not immediately available.
MasterCard Inc. settled a similar case with the commission in April.
Visa Europe licenses the brand from Visa Inc. of San Francisco.