Mastercard faces Swiss probe linked to ATM scheme

Oscar Williams-Grut
·Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
·2-min read
An illustrative image of Mastercard credit cards.
On Sunday, January 3, 2021, in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
An illustrative image of Mastercard credit cards. Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Mastercard (MA) is being investigated by Swiss authorities for the possible obstruction of Switzerland's National Cash Scheme.

COMCO, Switzerland's competition watchdog, said in a statement on Tuesday it had opened an investigation into Mastercard. The probe is linked to Switzerland's National Cash Scheme, which allows people to use their bank cards at any ATM operated by Swiss banks rather than being limited to those run by their issuing bank.

The National Cash Scheme is a new initiative from SIX, the company that operates Switzerland's national stock exchange and other financial infrastructure in the country. SIX complained last year that Mastercard was potentially obstructing the rollout of the National Cash Scheme by refusing to link its cards to the new system.

READ MORE: Bitcoin hits new record as price nears $50,000

COMCO is investigating whether Mastercard is abusing its dominant position in the market. As a precautionary measure, it has ordered banks that work with Mastercard to prepare for the possibility of bringing Mastercard cards onto the National Cash Scheme.

A COMCO spokesperson declined to comment beyond Tuesday's press release.

No guidance was given on the timing of the Investigation. Investigation of this nature can take years.

"Mastercard is aware of the Swiss Competition Commission’s decision to open an investigation into the ATM market in Switzerland," a Mastercard spokesperson said. "The decision is an interim procedural step and does not imply any breach of Swiss Competition law by Mastercard or any other player.

"Mastercard operates an open payment system that guarantees fair access to the Swiss ATM market for all market participants which benefits Swiss consumers. Mastercard is of the opinion that the Commission’s decision to impose interim measures is not justified and intends to appeal these measures."

WATCH: Mastercard to open its network to select cryptocurrencies