NMa: Extra Discount Interpay for Ahold Not Abuse
The fact that Interpay charges Ahold a lower tariff for network services for debit-card transactions than other customers is justifiable, according to the Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa). NMa is of the opinion that the extra discounts which Ahold has received throughout the years can be regarded as a reward for the investments which Ahold made and the risks which Ahold took as the first mover. According to NMa, these justify special treatment for a certain period. Were NMa to take a different decision, this could have the effect of impeding new initiatives and technical innovation.
NMa took a decision on this matter following a complaint from the procurement organisation, Superunie. Superunie was of the opinion that Interpay had abused its dominant position by giving Ahold an extra discount on the normal tariffs for debit-card transaction services without their being any objective justification for this. Interpay it was therefore alleged to have engaged in prohibited unequal treatment.
When Interpay entered into its agreement with Ahold (1992), debit-card transactions were not yet commonplace. In order to promote the use of debit cards in the Netherlands, Interpay offered a special scheme which was open to all companies. In compensation for the investments required to make large-scale use of debit cards possible, companies received a discount on the tariffs. Ahold made considerable investments in terminals, software and promotion of the use of debit cards in order to make the large-scale use of debit cards possible in its stores within a short period. In addition, Ahold gave Interpay guarantees with regard to the number of debit-card transactions which it aimed to achieve. According to Interpay, this resulted in a breakthrough for debit-card payments. At the moment that an agreement was entered into with Superunie (1998) debit-card payments were common practice. NMa has dismissed the complaint brought by Superunie.