EU comission (Wikileaks, DataCell vs. Visa & MasterCard)

The EU comission  in Brussels has investigated if Visa & Mastercard have violated competition law when they did close down on processing credit card donations towards Wikileaks. My company DataCell ehf was the payment processor for donations towards Wikileaks in 2010. We got cut off by Visa and Mastercard due to that even though we did not do anything wrong. Political forces where pushing them to do so but legally speaking they find a million other excuses of which none upstands in court. We even had the first victory in court in Reykjavik who ruled in our favor and ordered the card companies to reopen. Never the less nothing happens (they appealed). So far we are disconnected from any payments, for our own services as well as for donations to other charity organisations whatsoever. This is discrimination by a market dominator at its best.

The EU commission had to investigate this cause. This preliminary investigation was to verify if they have to fully investigate. Today they don't think its of relevance. They write:

...because it is unlikely that any infringement of EU competition rules could be established.

If you follow the discussion in the EU parliament then its the clear will of politics to not allow foreign (US) control over european financial transactions. The comission's assessment to not even investigate is in total opposite direction of the political will.

If you read the full reasoning, it basically sounds like they where hunting for an excuse to not have to investigate it. If you follow their thinking path in their intention to refuse then the conclusing would be that if harm is done to a small to medium enterprise and it disappears out of the market, then the player who does harm is not violating anti competition law because the small enterprise disappearing out of the market is not having a significant change on the market itself. (one small player less in the market doesn't change the market mechanics). So its most absurd as the intention of the law is especially this: to avoid over powered monopoly like players to dictate the market. And that's clearly what happens in our case. Visa decides that we can not do business while the french can do exactly the same business under exactly the same conditions today. This is an economic declaration of war from Visa but because Visa is not gaining anything directly from doing so, its not considered harmful to the market as such (so the reasoning of EU comission).

There is another side effect which they have not even looked at. Visa's doing in Valitor's case in Iceland has resulted in the fact that we are also disconnected from payments from American Express. American Express have confirmed in writing that they have not given any orders to close us down. So if Visa is saying, disconnect DataCell, then  everybody obeys their orders and disconnects them from Visa, MasterCard AND American Express while American Express has no clue about that. So Visa can set the rules of the market and  dictate other credit card companies whom they can serve or not anymore. This is competition control at its finest. So it is mostly absurd that the EU Comission has not even considered that effect of the case and outright says its uniklely that there is any infrigement of EU competition rules. Hasn't the EU comission not been exactly established for this purpose?

And nobody seems to even take into consideration that this is not about Visa per se but about US politics controlling the EU market. And if the EU comission can't see the real mechanics behind Visa and close their eyes in front of all the facts then we have to take on the burden and go all the way to EU court to get justice.

Andreas Fink



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