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Debit card fees reduced by French banks

As U.S. banks are adjusting to a government mandate to lower interchange fees, the group that represents all major French banks and financial institutions agreed to cut interbank fees for bank card transactions.

The Groupement des Cartes Bancaires CB, which governs banks including BNP Paribas SA, Credit Agricole SA and Societe Generale SA, will cut, by as much as 36 percent, interbank fees charged on a retail transaction used with a CB card, Bloomberg reports.

The agreement also includes reducing the interbank withdrawal fee by 21 percent and dropping by half fees for cards seized by cash machines.

The new rates take effect Oct. 1.

Similar to the U.S. consumer trend, the CB cards, which link directly to bank accounts, have become the most favorable method of payment in France.

In September, France’s Competition Authority fined 11 French banks 384.9 million euros for charging unjustified interbank fees. In response, CB volunteered to trim its rates for debit cards used for payments by 25 percent, Bloomberg reports.

After fielding comments from consumer associations, merchants and others on CB’s proposal, the Competition Authority sought deeper cuts.

In a separate investigation, the Competition Authority is currently looking into interbank fees for independent credit cards and other non-cash payments, Bloomberg reports.

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