Four banks in the NatWest stable - National Westminster Bank, Royal Bank of Scotland, Ulster Bank and Coutts & Company - have been hit with a £1.82 million fine for overcharging interchange fees on credit cards.
The Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) opened an investigation into the banks four years ago after the issue was picked up during routine monitoring.
It found that the banks incorrectly treated a number of cards as being ‘commercial’ cards when they should have been treated as ‘consumer’ cards. This meant that fees charged by these banks weren’t capped and were set at too high a level.
As a result, both acquirers and, ultimately, merchants were overcharged. The PSR found that the banks wrongly profited from almost £1.2m in excess interchange fees between March 2016-18.
Chris Hemsley, managing director of the PSR, comments: “The interchange fee caps were put in place to reduce the cost of accepting customer card payments for shops and other merchants’ businesses. The banks broke the rules by failing to bring themselves in line with the caps.
"Not only have the banks reimbursed the fees to acquirers which they were not entitled to collect, but we have also fined them for their failings."