EC Antitrust Investigation on E-Commerce Payments Halted

June 17, 2013

Late last week, the European Commission (EC) closed a two-year antitrust investigation into the e-commerce payments standardization process undertaken by the European Payments Council (EPC). The investigation was instigated by a complaint from German alternative online payment provider Sofort AG, which claimed the EPC’s e-Payments Framework could exclude non-bank online payment providers.

During the course of the investigation, the EPC—a consortium of European banks principally concerned with supporting and promoting the Single European Payments Area (SEPA)—said it would stop its development of the e-Payments Framework or any set of standards that would have the same effect on e-commerce in Europe. Following the EPC’s decision, Sofort withdrew its complaint, leading to the EC suspending the investigation.

The EC said it would continue to monitor the landscape concerning online payments and is considering proposing legislation to establish objective and non-discriminatory rules for all players active in the e-payments market.