Visa Europe will keep its cross-border interchange rates as is, even though MasterCard Europe, facing hefty fines from European regulators, said Thursday it would "temporarily repeal" its rates while continuing its appeal of the regulators' decision. "The announcement has no impact in Visa Europe's interchange," Visa said in a statement issued Friday. "We are in ongoing talks with the European Commission about how we (will) set our interchange in the future, and these continue." The commission is investigating Visa Europe's interchange and card practices. In December, it gave MasterCard six months to lower its rates or face paying daily fines amounting to 3.5% of global revenues. Regulators say the rates are anticompetitive. On Friday, Visa Europe repeated that it hoped to reach agreement with the commission. But one analyst questioned how much negotiating power Visa has in the wake of MasterCard's interchange decision. "The way the situation is evolving, it's clear that MasterCard and Visa have little leverage over the [commission]," Gwenn Bézard, senior analyst for the Aite Group, a United States-based consultancy, tells CardLine Global. "It's not good news for Visa." Meanwhile, European retailers welcomed MasterCard's decision to repeal its rates. "This signals a major victory in the battle against this hidden taxation of purchasing, which will bring significant benefits to consumers and retailers," retail trade association EuroCommerce said in a statement issued Friday.

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