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ACCC begins investigation into digital payment markets

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has shifted its attention to competition concerns in the digital payments market.

ACCC Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb highlighted this shift during her speech at the Australian Financial Review Banking Summit. With digital payment systems quickly integrating into traditional finance, the ACCC is concerned about anti-competitive conduct and desires to protect the interests of consumers.

Moreover, Gina Cass-Gottlieb’s comments were made shortly after the ACCC instituted proceedings against Mastercard for alleged anti-competitive practices in the supply of debit card acceptance services. Mastercard was accused of entering into 20 agreements with major retailers to provide select businesses with discounted rates for Mastercard credit card transactions. This discount also required that businesses use Mastercard EFTPOS machines over any other point of sale network. Due to Mastercard’s significant market influence, the ACCC viewed these agreements as a means of deterring businesses from using other EFTPOS networks.

In her speech, Gina Cass-Gottlieb emphasised the need to work with the Australian Government to ensure a regulatory framework is designed to control digital payments. Similar propositions have already been outlined in the ACCC’s Digital Platforms Services Inquiry as well as issues concerning financial services scams, cryptocurrency scams, and the Consumer Data Right within the banking sector.

It is clear that the ACCC is seeking to protect Australian consumers as we usher in a new wave of digital and commercial economy.

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