Credit card company MasterCard has been fined 31.56 million pounds (37.75 million euros) in Britain for making cartel deals with four other companies. This was announced by the British Payment Systems Regulator (PSR).
The case revolves around prepaid credit cards that local governments use to provide benefits to people in difficult situations, such as the homeless and asylum seekers. The system was powered by Mastercard. But between 2012 and 2018, Mastercard, three card issuers with Mastercard licenses — Allpay, Advanced Payment Solutions and Prepaid Financial Services — and financial services company Sulion, misused the system. They agreed that they would not approach or attempt to rob each other’s clients in the public sector.
The companies involved admitted in the course of the PSR investigation that they had violated the law. The regulator has now fined the five companies a total of £33m. The majority of this amount is 31.56 million pounds for the account of the MasterCard company.
“This issue is particularly serious because the illegal cartel means there has been less competition and choice for local authorities,” said Chris Hemsley, chief executive of PSR. “This means that they may have missed out on cheaper or better products for the most vulnerable groups in society.”
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