The new Interchange Fee Enforcement Act (IEVG) has been in force since the end of April. With the IEVG, national accompanying regulations for the EU Regulation (EU) 2015/751 on interchange fees for card-based payment transactions were implemented.
1. Interchange fees and EU interchange fee regulation
Interchange fees are fees that apply to card payment transactions between different banks, namely the card-issuing bank and the acquirer. In order to standardise and harmonise interchange fees for card transactions throughout the EU, the EU legislator passed the EU Interchange Fees Regulation on interchange fees for card-based payment transactions. Among other things, this regulation sets upper limits for interchange fees that payment service providers may charge consumers for card payments:
- for debit card transactions, a maximum of 0.2% of the transaction value per payment transaction
- for credit card transactions, a maximum of 0.3% of the transaction value per payment transaction
Furthermore, the EU Interchange Fees Regulation lays down transparency rules on interchange fees and stipulates that payees may not be obliged to accept all cards and payment instruments of a card payment scheme of the same issuing institut.
2. Interchange Fee Enforcement Act (IEVG)
According to the EU Interchange Fee Regulation, accompanying regulations and measures are to be taken at national level, which were implemented in Austria by the IEVG.
The IEVG regulates the following in particular:
- The competent authority for enforcement is the Federal Competition Authority (Bundeswettbewerbsbehörde, BWB). The BWB is to ensure that interchange fees comply with the applicable competition provisions and are not levied in an abusive manner.
- Violations of the EU Interchange Fees Regulation may result in fines of up to EUR 75,000.00. The BWB may impose fines of up to 10% of the total turnover achieved in the previous business year on legal entities if the violation was committed by a person in a management position (i.e. with powers of representation or control).
- Appeals against decisions of the BWB may be lodged with the Federal Administrative Court (Bundesverwaltungsgericht, BVwG).
The IEVG lays down supervisory and procedural rules with regard to interchange fees for card-based payment transactions. There is a risk of considerable fines, so it is important to ensure that the regulations of the EU Interchange Fees Regulation are complied with.