European retailers say card costs rose after EU capped fees

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Retailers including Tesco Plc, Ikea and Inc. called on European Union regulators to crack down on credit and debit card fees that have increased after laws capped so-called interchange fees five years ago.

EuroCommerce, an industry group that represents 6 million retailers, said card companies “have been steadily increasing the unregulated fees imposed on” stores. It wants the European Commission to widen the existing rules to cover other card transactions. It’s also asking for “strong and dissuasive penalties” if card firms don’t comply.

“Other fees have substantially increased, as have fees for unregulated cards, which most merchants have no choice but to accept,” EuroCommerce said in an emailed statement on Thursday.

Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc. ended nearly two decades of EU antitrust scrutiny with a settlement last year. Interchange fees, a payment made between retailers’ and consumers’ banks as part of card transactions, were a target of antitrust investigations before the EU drafted a law to cap the fees.

Visa said that a recent report commissioned by the EU found that the cost of card acceptance for retailers has decreased significantly in recent years. “In line with these findings, Visa does not believe a revision of the legislation is needed at this time,” the company said in a statement.

Mastercard didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The EU says rules to curb payment card fees reduced yearly revenue paid to card companies and banks by 2.6 billion euros ($2.8 billion)a year from 2015 and 2017.

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