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Swiss competition watchdog to investigate Mastercard

The dispute centres around a Swiss attempt to uniformise functions across ATMs from different providers. © Keystone / Alexandra Wey

The competition authority suspects the global credit card firm of using its position to prevent the rollout of a new, more uniform, ATM system across Switzerland.

COMCO said on Tuesday it had launched an investigation on February 8 after a complaint by the Swiss financial infrastructure company SIX, which is responsible for developing the so-called “National Cash Scheme” (NCS).

SIX said that Mastercard had refused to introduce a “co-badging” function on its debit cards to enable the rollout of the NCS – a system that aims to uniformise the functions available at ATMs operated by different banks.

Such functions would give clients the ability to do things like deposit cash or check their balance at ATMs not operated by their own bank.

While the investigations are ongoing, COMCO said it had taken provisional measures, asking Mastercard to offer banks the possibility of issuing cards that will be able to integrate the NCS system at a later date.

Contacted by the Keystone-SDA news agency, Mastercard said on Tuesday that it had taken note of COMCO’s decision, and that it would welcome a clear investigation into the ATM sector in the country.

However, the company added that the provisional measures were unjustified and that it would contest them before the Federal Administrative Court.

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