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Report : French Banks to Cut Card Fees

PARIS—The Wall Street Journal
The French competition authority said French banks have agreed to slash fees earned on card payments as much as 51% in a move that could reduce annual revenue for the sector by €600 million ($859.1 million).
The Autorité de la Concurrence said that beginning Oct. 1, following talks with a group of French banks representing more than 130 players, fees paid to retailers' banks on card transactions will be cut 36%, reducing annual revenue by €500 million.
Fees on withdrawals made from automatic tellers belonging to banks other than the cardholder's own will fall more than 20%, equivalent to annual revenue of around €100 million.
Interbank fees for card withholding services are to be cut as much as 51%.
"The significant reduction of the payment fee will put France in fifth place among European countries with the lowest levels of interchange fees," said the authority's president, Bruno Lasserre. Last September, the authority fined 11 banks a total of €384.9 million for colluding to charge unjustified fees on checks and other interbank services when they made the transition to a new digital system for processing checks from January 2002 through July 2007.
It said the banks agreed among themselves to apply a €0.043 fee on 80% of checks exchanged in France in that period. The fees cost customers an additional €220 million, the watchdog said.
The banks fined included Bank of France, Groupe BPCE, BNP Paribas SA, Confédération Nationale du Crédit Mutuel and its Credit Industriel et Commercial SA unit, Crédit Agricole SA, Crédit Agricole's LCL unit, HSBC Holdings PLC, Banque Postale and Société Générale SA, along with SocGen's Crédit du Nord unit.

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