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EU to investigate Visa charges

The EU is to launch an investigation into fees levied by Visa, a move welcomed by the British Retail Consortium.

An interchange fee or Merchant Service Charge (MSC) is the fee a retailer is forced to pay on each card transaction it accepts.

However the BRC has led a fight against the fees, arguing they are an unjustifiable tax on retailers and consumers.

The retail body argues that the charges are much higher than the actual costs card firms incur in processing transactions and there is no transparency over how they are calculated.

BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: "We applaud the Commission's determination to end this unfair tax on consumers. This has been a long fight for the retail industry and its customers. Card companies have clearly been abusing their position to bolster profits while retailers and their customers bear the cost. "

Robertson added: "Since our victory over MasterCard, retailers all over Europe have been waiting for an investigation into Visa's charges. With toughening economic conditions, the need for an end to these excessive, inexplicably calculated, costs is greater than ever. The card companies must understand the days of unjustifiably creaming-off customers' cash are over."

"Visa must co-operate with the Commission to reach a resolution quickly. We applaud the speed with which Brussels is acting on these important issues and urge the UK's Office of Fair Trading to conclude its own investigations into domestic rates as soon as possible.”

Visa said in a statement: "We see no evidence that Visa Europe's interchange has acted as a tax on consumption or has caused consumers to pay twice. Today's announcement by the commission was expected by Visa Europe and is a standard procedural step."

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