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Visa Europe Settles EU Antitrust Probe With Credit-Card Fees Cut

Visa Europe Ltd.’s pledge to reduce credit-card fees was accepted by European Union regulators in a settlement that ends an antitrust probe that dates back more than a decade.

Visa Europe, operator of the EU’s largest payment-card network, will cap so-called interbank fees for processing credit card payments to 0.3 percent of the value of the transaction for cross-border and domestic payments in Europe for four years, from Jan. 1, 2015. The commitment will reduce card charges by 40 percent to 60 percent.

Card fees charged by Visa Europe and MasterCard Inc. have been probed by European Union regulators since at least 2002. MasterCard is currently challenging a similar settlement at the EU’s highest court, saying such multilateral interchange fees are crucial for sharing the costs of card payments among banks, retailers and customers.

The agreement “provides legal certainty” and allows the company focus on its payment business “rather than pursuing lengthy legal cases,” Nicholas Huss, Visa Europe’s chief executive officer, said in an e-mailed statement. Visa Europe will also make its pricing more transparent to help retailers compare rates.

A 0.3 percent cap on credit card fees for payments that customers make in their home nation will be applied after a two-year delay to deter banks switching to cards with higher charges, the EU said.

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