The Commission has long regarded such cross-border payment fees with suspicion and acknowledges that the multilateral setting of the Visa MIF between competing banks constitutes a restriction of free and fair competition. But it feels that "a multilaterally-fixed interchange fee can lead to beneficial efficiencies and economies within a payment network", and therefore qualifies for an exemption from EU anti-trust rules, "but only if it is set in a reasonable and equitable manner".The default level of the MIF, which applies unless two banks agree otherwise, is set by the Visa Board, subject to approval by the Commission.In order to get the deal through, Visa has promised to take the following steps:- reduce the level of its MIFs for the different types of consumer cards.- set a limit on the charges made for certain specific services: transaction processing, guaranteeing payments made by cardholders, and allowing the cardholder a period of time before he or she must pay the bill. In other words, services which, in the Commission's view, are provided by cardholders' banks and benefit those retailers who ultimately pay the cross-border MIFs.- improve transparency of MIF charges by allowing member banks to communicate current levels to retailers at their request. Currently, such levels are considered "business secrets" and therefore not generally revealed.The exemption will come into force as soon...

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