The European Commission has given the go-ahead for the creation of a payment cards joint venture between Allied Irish Banks and First Data.
The joint venture will provide services relating to the use and acceptance of payment cards, primarily in Ireland but also in other EU member states. The Commission concluded that the operation would not significantly impede effective competition in the European Economic Area (EEA) or in any substantial part of it.
As Allied Irish Banks currently accounts for a substantial part of the Irish market for merchant acquiring and First Data Corporation holds a controlling stake in Omnipay - a payment processing platform located in Ireland - the Commission checked whether any competition concerns would arise from the relationship between the merchant acquiring services to be offered by the joint venture and First Data's transaction processing activities in Ireland. It found that Omnipay provides processing services for transactions originating all across Europe and not only in Ireland and that the joint venture would face competition from a number of competitors both in Ireland and elsewhere in the EEA.
Following the transaction, the parties' joint share of all merchant acquiring in the EEA would be less than one per cent. Due to the limited activities of Allied Irish Banks, the increase in market share would be marginal, states the Commission. As regards payment card processing, "there are no significant overlaps and there are strong competitors in all Member States in which the parties' activities overlap".