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Evaluation of the anti-competitive effects of a new regulation in the payment and settlement sector

Lear has been appointed by a consortium of banks to analyse the effects of the new Direct Access Fee (“DAF”) proposed by Bancomat S.p.A. to replace the Multilateral Interchange Fee (“MIF”) model for “not-on-us” ATM withdrawals with a model based on a direct fee to the cardholder. The Italian Competition Authority found that the project violated Article 101 TFEU, and that the new remuneration system would hinder competition among banks and likely facilitate collusion, fully in line with the theory of harm developed by Lear. Lear, in fact, provided evidence that banks with a large ATM network would benefit from network externalities and have the ability to impose high costs on their rivals’ customers. Lear also argued that the proposed remuneration system was not necessary to avoid the historic reduction in ATMs the Bancomat project and would rather facilitate tacit collusion in direct withdrawal fees.