The European Union has fined Mastercard €570.6 million (roughly $648.2 million) over charges that the company artificially raised the cost of card payments inside the EU.
The issue comes specifically in the fees that credit card companies charge businesses, The Wall Street Journal reports. Each time you run your card at a business, it’s typically being charged a small fee for the convenience of being able to accept your plastic card over cash. The amount of that fee has traditionally varied between different countries.
According to the EU’s antitrust regulator, Mastercard has historically prevented retailers from shopping around for lower bank fees that might be available outside of their country. This maneuver ultimately leads to higher prices for both retailers and consumers and limiting competition, according to the regulator. For instance, a French business would be unable to use an Italian bank, despite the fact that both are in the EU.
The antitrust investigation was initially opened in 2013.
The fine wasn’t a tremendous surprise to Mastercard. The company mentioned in December that it expected to pay the fine, which represents a 10% reduction in what the EU initially wanted to charge, a discount for cooperating with the probe and acknowledging the issues.
The EU isn’t the only place Mastercard has been fined for the issue. In September, Mastercard was part of a group of companies (including Visa) that agreed to pay a $6.2 billion settlement with merchants regarding fees.