Visa has been fined $18 million for abusing its market power to prevent rival currency conversion services on payment terminals that use its cards.
The Federal Court ordered Visa pay the fine after ruling in favour of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
Visa had effectively blocked a rival currency conversion service on its payment network by prohibiting its expansion over several months in 2010, the court ruled.
Justice Michael Wigney said the ruling should send a clarion call to multinationals that Australia will not tolerate them flouting its competition laws whatever decisions had been made elsewhere.
“The ACCC was concerned that Visa’s conduct was likely to stop the growth of currency conversion services which competed with its own and, as a result, limit the choices available to consumers,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.
“The substantial penalty imposed against Visa Worldwide reflects the serious nature of the conduct, which hindered the competitive process and restricted an emerging technology and service from developing.”