While card companies and retailers continue to battle over interchange in the United States, similar events are taking place overseas. MasterCard Europe has "temporarily repealed" its interchange rates that European regulators say violate antitrust rules, the card company said Thursday. The action applies to cross-border interchange merchant acquirers pay card issuers when customers use MasterCards or Maestro debit cards. On Dec. 19, the European Commission ordered MasterCard to lower the rates within six months or face daily fines amounting to 3.5% of global revenues. On 1 March, MasterCard filed an appeal with the European Court of First Instance. The card organization is continuing that appeal, though MasterCard does not expect a judgment until "the second half of 2010," a MasterCard spokesperson tells CardLine sister publication CardLine Global. The interchange rates average 1% of the sale for MasterCard-branded cards and 0.5% for Maestro-branded cards, the spokesperson says. "MasterCard believes its cross-border interchange system has kept the cost of payment cards low for cardholders," Javier Perez, MasterCard Europe president, says in a statement. In March, the European Commission said it was investigating the interchange rates applied to Visa card transactions in Europe and the card organization's rule that merchants must accept all Visa-branded cards regardless of the issuer or type of transaction.

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