Mastercard and Visa Face Fresh Competition Lawsuits

Mar 15, 2023


Major global payment companies Mastercard and Visa are reportedly facing a fresh lawsuit, this time alleging they overcharged businesses for credit and debit card fees.

Sky News broke the story in late February, saying London-based law firm Harcus Parker is filing one of the largest competition compensation claims in British history. The case hinges on multilateral interchange fees (MIFs), that businesses must pay their banks in order to accept payment by credit or debit card. The claim will argue these fees—which make up as much as 90 percent of a typical business’s monthly bank charge—are set not by market forces but by Mastercard and Visa themselves, and are forced upon banks as a condition of being permitted to participate in the two companies’ card schemes.

We are standing up for UK businesses, big and small, and demanding that they be properly compensated. These fees are unlawful and should be abolished.
"Thomas Ross, Partner at Harcus Parker

Businesses who operated with an average pre-pandemic turnover of under £100 million and have registered online will be automatically included in the claim, unless they opt out, while those with higher turnover will be invited to opt in.

The claim comes in addition to a landmark £14 billion class action suit against Mastercard that the UK Supreme Court allowed to go forward in 2021, with the company accused of overcharging 46 million Britons over the course of 15 years. It also follows the summer 2022 announcement of an investigation into ‘soaring costs and anti-competitive practices’ by Mastercard and Visa by the UK’s Payment Systems Regulator.

Additionally, another case was brought by Harcus Parker against Mastercard and Visa in 2022, which alleges they overcharged businesses in the travel and hospitality sectors for corporate and foreign card fees. ABTA—the Association of British Travel Agents—and UK Hospitality are two trade bodies that backed the 2022 claim and, Sky News claims, are ‘among those expected to endorse the latest action’.

Last Updated: Mar 15, 2023