AmEx: EU interchange proposals could affect European payments industry in long term

american expressAmerican Express said in a statement issued on Wednesday that interchange proposals put forth by the European Commission “could affect the pricing and operations of the European payments industry over an extended period of time.”

The EC proposed on Wednesday to set a 0.2 percent cap on debit and credit interchange fees, saying the move would save retailers in the European Union $7.9 billion per year and would help to stimulate the economy, The New York Times reports.

The proposed rules would also limit surcharges imposed by some retailers on certain purchases, including airline tickets, that can add an additional $16 to a purchase total. Another measure would allow Visa and MasterCard to separate their processing and credit card services businesses, which European regulators maintain would help increase competition.

American Express said it does not set prices collectively or “operate on the basis of inter-bank arrangements.”

“We believe that any new regulatory framework should recognize fundamental differences in business models and market positions,” American Express said. “We also believe that to subject smaller networks that do not operate on the basis of inter-bank arrangements to the same remedies as the dominant, inter-bank networks that have engaged in anti-competitive conduct would be counter-productive to the Commission’s aims.  It would also be inconsistent with the EU’s own clear objectives, and marks a significant departure from existing legal and regulatory precedent.”

Peter Ayliffe, the president of Visa Europe, said the commission’s proposals partly exempt American Express. The EC estimated that approximately nine percent of American Express’ fees would be covered by the new rules, according to The New York Times.

The rules would apply to cross-border transactions within the EU as soon as the law took effect. The proposals do, however, include a 22-month transition period for domestic transactions.

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