European Regulators Look into Antitrust Questions on E-payments

By Ed Silverstein September 26, 2011

European Union regulators are looking into antitrust issues involving some top banks and questions related to e-payments, according to media reports. The banks linked to the inquiry include such prominent firms as Deutsche Bank, HSBC and BBVA, according to press accounts.

EU regulators are looking at whether new entrants are being prevented from entering the European online payments market, according to official statements.  The investigation will also look at the “standardization process” involving e-payments – which are “payments” made “over the internet.”

The inquiry is being launched by the European Payments Council (EPC). The EPC regulates the European banking industry on payment issues.

“The Commission will undertake a careful examination … to ensure that competition is not unduly restricted, for example through the exclusion of new entrants and payment providers who are not controlled by a bank,” according to an EU press release.

“Excluding competitors in the online payments market could result in higher prices for web merchants and ultimately consumers,” the press release added.

In a press statement, European Commission Vice President Joaquín Almunia, who is in charge of Competition Policy, said that the “use of the internet is increasing rapidly” and makes “the need for secure and efficient online payment solutions in the whole Single Euro Payments Area all the more pressing.”

The EPC backs standards for e-payments, the press release added.

The antitrust investigation was launched after regulators became aware of a complaint, according to Reuters. The name of the complainant was not made public.

In other antitrust issues, European regulators recently decided to stop an antitrust inquiry against IBM, TechZone360 said. The regulators made their decision after IBM offered “concessions for European competitors,” TechZone360 added.

“The computer giant offered to make it easier for competitors to provide maintenance services for its mainframe computers,” TechZone360 reported, citing reports appearing on The Huffington Post.

The European Commission launched two inquiries last year to see if IBM was “abusing its dominant position in the market for mainframe computers,” TechZone360 reported.

Ed Silverstein is a TechZone360 contributor. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

TechZone360 Contributor

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