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Oz watchdog sues Visa over currency conversion services

06 February 2013  |  3934 views  |  0 Australian Flag

Visa is being sued by Australia's competition watchdog, accused of misusing its market power to thwart competing currency conversion services.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) case centres on dynamic currency conversion (DCC) services, which let international cardholders choose whether they complete a transaction in their home currency or in the local one of the POS terminal or ATM they are using.

The watchdog contends that Visa worked to stop the expansion of these services from various suppliers because the card giant earned less revenue when a customer selected DCC than when they used Visa's own currency conversion offering.

In 2010 Visa rolled out rules to stop the expansion of supply of DCC services by rival providers on POS transactions on its network, says the ACCC. Also, from at least October 2007, Visa has banned the use of DCC on transactions at ATMs using Visa cards in Australia.

Meanwhile, the card scheme set up exclusive deals, supplying access to its payment network to Australian banks and in turn, retailers, on condition that they didn't acquire DCC services from other suppliers.

In proceedings in federal court, the ACCC is seeking penalties, declarations and costs against Visa. A hearing is set for 14 March.
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