On Wednesday, in a statement Britain’s Payment Systems Regulator said, Mastercard is among five companies which broke the law for cartel behavior; the regulator has alleged that these five companies including, Mastercard, allpay, APS, PFS and Sulion offered pre-paid cards to vulnerable members of society.
These five companies agreed to not compete or poach each other’s customers on cards used by local authorities for welfare payments to the homeless, victims of domestic violence and asylum seekers, said the PSR while adding, an investigation is ongoing and the companies can make representations on the provisional findings.
Of the five, allpay, Mastercard, and PFS have admitted liability. If the PSR’s investigation finds wrongdoings they have agreed to pay a maximum fine totaling to more than $44 million (32 million pounds).
According to the PSR, the five companies have infringed upon at least two of Britain’s 1998 competition law. One breach took place over a period of six years between 2012 and 2018 and involved all five companies, said the PSR. The other lasted between 2014 and 2016 and involved APS and FPS.
“Pre-paid card services, like these, can provide significant benefits to local authorities as one way to make welfare payments to some of the most vulnerable people in society,” said Chris Hemsley, PSR’s managing director. “By colluding in this way, we consider the parties were acting as a cartel… Collusion in payments is absolutely unacceptable. Where we see it happening, we will take action, stop it, and seek to impose significant penalties.”
Neither allpay, Mastercard, PFS or APS were immediately available for comment.
Sulion could not be reached for comment.