Out of the five companies, Mastercard received the largest fine of £31.56 million. The other four companies are allpay, Advanced Payment Solution, Prepaid Financial Services, and Sulion.
The UK regulator said the five firms broke competition law by agreeing not to compete or steal each other’s customers on prepaid cards offered to vulnerable people on welfare payments via local authorities. The cartel meant that the card’s recipients could have missed out on lower priced or better quality products, the PSR said.
Back in March 2021, the PSR had announced plans to fine the five companies in preliminary findings. On Tuesday, the regulator said it had concluded the investigation. All the parties in question have settled and have admitted to breaking the law.
“This investigation and the significant fines we have imposed send a clear message that the PSR has zero tolerance for cartel behaviour,” said Chris Hemsley, managing director of the PSR.
“We will intervene and enforce the law strictly to ensure there is effective competition in payments markets. This case is particularly serious because the illegal cartel behaviour meant there was less competition and choice for local authorities. This means they may have missed out on cheaper or better-quality products which were used by some of the most vulnerable in society.”