Watchdog accuses Visa of currency racket

By James Barnes

04 February 2013 at 11:50 BST

Australia's competition enforcer is taking US financial services giant Visa to court, claiming that the world's largest electronic payment network is abusing its power.

Currency exchange row in Oz

Currency exchange row in Oz

The case pertains to currency conversion when foreign credit cards are used to make purchases in Australia, reports the Sydney Morning Herald today.

No options

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission alleges Visa has banned retailers in the country from using alternative currency conversion systems. It also claims that that tourists had no option but to use Visa’s system when withdrawing money from cash machines.
‘The ACCC is concerned that Visa sought to stop the growth of competing dynamic currency conversion services and, as a result, limit the choices available to consumers,’ said commission chairman Rod Sims.

Vigorous defence

According to the report, the commission has begun legal action against VISA AP (Australia), VISA Inc, VISA USA Inc and VISA Worldwide Pty Ltd, in the Federal Court in New South Wales.  
The watchdog is seeking to enforce penalties against Visa, which could lead to a potential AU$20 million fine if company is found to have breached Australian law.
Visa said today it would 'vigorously defend itself against claims by the ACCC that our rules on dynamic currency conversion infringe Australia's competition laws'.


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