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NMa Does Not Approve Banks' Fee Scheme for Express Payments

The Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa) has not given its approval to the agreement between a large number of banks to set up a fee system for express payments. The system was presented to NMa for assessment because agreements between competitors may restrict competition. According to the proposed scheme, the banks would pay each other a fixed fee for informing the recipient of the express payment (referred to as "credit advice"). This service has been offered for the past 18 years without charging a fee. The fee which the banks would charge each other is supposedly necessary to make it possible to introduce express payments without "credit advice". In NMa's assessment, the banks have not given sufficient reasons as to why this fee scheme is necessary. In addition, it is unclear whether consumers will also benefit from possible cost savings resulting from the introduction of the system. The introduction of the interbank fee may even result in higher consumer prices.

The rejection of this application means that the agreement to introduce and interbank fee for express payments falls within the scope of the prohibition on cartels and is therefore prohibited. The introduction of express payments without credit advice is permitted, as this will increase consumers' freedom of choice.