CPC issues €31 million fine: JCC fined for price-fixing along with eight banks

The Cyprus Commission for the Protection of Competition issued €31 million collusion fine. JCC fined for price-fixing along with other major financial markets players.

23 May, AtoZForex The Commission for the Protection of Competition (CPC) has issued a collective €31 million fine for the payment processing company JCC and eight other commercial banks. The CPC has informed the public that the entities have been involving in the collusion activities.

JCC fined for price-fixing along with eight banks

The JCC and eight commercial banks have been illegally cooperating their activities. The companies were aiming to squeeze the FBME Card Services out of the market. The authority has ordered the firms to pay the fines within the period of next 30 days.

The company victim, FBME Card Services, has filed the complaint back in 2010. The files had been thrown out in 2016, however, the Supreme Court of Cyprus has reversed this decision.

The CPC has issued a 480-page report that outlines how JCC Payment Systems Limited has been engaged in collusion with other eight banks. The malpractices also involved price fixing and other unfair pricing practices. The CPC reports that the banks in question are the Bank of Cyprus, now-defunct Marfin Popular Bank Public Co Ltd, Hellenic Bank, USB Bank Plc, Alpha Bank Cyprus Ltd, Emporiki Bank Cyprus Ltd, National Bank of Greece (Cyprus) Ltd, and Societe Generale Cyprus Ltd.

The Commission has found all of them guilty of breaching the 2014 Competition Law. Moreover, entities have violated articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

CPC outlined punishment for each entity

The CPC has imposed the highest individual fine of €18 million on the Bank of Cyprus. Marfin was fined €7.7 million, JCC €1.7 million, Hellenic Bank €1.6 million, Alpha Bank €1.4 million, National Bank of Greece €233,972, USB €121,519, Emporiki Bank €160,851, and Societe Generale €94,102.

JCC has violated competition rules by creating a single system for local interchange fees with its shareholders. The CPC found such practice as an obstacle for competition in the card payment market. One of JCC shareholders is the Bank of Cyprus, which owns 75 percent of the company. Moreover, Hellenic Bank, National Bank of Greece AstroBank and Alpha Bank, all share 25 percent of the firm's shares.

Moreover, the LCC is providing acquiring services to the Cooperative Central Bank, Societe Generale, USB Bank, cdbbank, EuroBank and RCB Bank. As a fact, the JCC has a leading position in the card-processing market in Cyprus. The company was found to be engaged in the unfair pricing practices related to the fees for customer service rights.

The Commission has mentioned that Bank of Cyprus, Marfin, Hellenic Bank, Alpha Bank and the National Bank of Greece have been taking part in unfair pricing in relation to domestic interchange fees. As JCC fined for price-fixing, the CPC has ordered JCC to amend all the service agreements so that they do not include certain restrictive terms within the following three months.

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