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MasterCard Europe Extends Timetable for Introduction of Maestro SEPA Fallback Interchange Rates


Cites Need for Regulatory Clarity and Further Consultation with Stakeholders Over How Best to Achieve SEPA.

Waterloo, Belgium,- MasterCard Europe announced today that it will delay the introduction of Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) fallback interchange rates for Maestro point-of-sale (POS) euro transactions, citing continued lack of clarity from competition authorities over interchange fees and opposition from some merchant associations.

Announcing the decision, MasterCard Europe President Javier Perez said, “MasterCard Europe was first to act on the European Central Bank’s request for SEPA interchange rates, in order to help drive SEPA forward rapidly, by providing clarity to banks, merchants and other stakeholder groups well ahead of the 1 January 2008 deadline.”

“However, recognizing that domestic markets across the Euro zone are beginning from very different starting points in terms of market structure, level of competition, consumer and merchant expectations, and regulatory environments, we have concluded that it is premature in the current climate to have SEPA fallback interchange rates apply from 1 January 2008.”

“MasterCard Europe remains committed to introducing SEPA interchange rates over time and by, if not before, the SEPA compliance deadline of 31 December 2010. Therefore we will continue to work closely with all stakeholder groups to build consensus and support for SEPA”, he said.

As banks, merchants and consumers in Euro zone countries move closer to the introduction of SEPA on 1 January 2008, MasterCard Europe wants to ensure that there is no business disruption for banks or merchants and a smooth introduction of SEPA, and that Maestro remains attractive as compared to other competing card schemes.

“MasterCard Europe is fully committed to helping to make SEPA a reality and welcomes the opening up of Euro zone countries to the increased competition that SEPA is designed to achieve. A four-party SEPA model, supported by interchange, is the best mechanism for ensuring efficiency and transparency in the sharing of costs between issuing and acquiring banks”, Perez said.

Javier Perez reaffirmed MasterCard Europe’s view that a four-party SEPA model will open up the market to new entrants, leading to enhanced competition for card acceptance services, increased standardization and greater innovation in card payments, and competitive offers on all major cost items for merchants such as the merchant service charges (MSC), terminals and telecommunications.

MasterCard Europe will continue to monitor closely market and regulatory developments and consider the need to set country-specific and other Maestro interchange rates in order to ensure that, overall, Maestro remains the most attractive SEPA payment alternative for consumers, merchants and banks.


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