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UK Collective Action – Mastercard’s View

By Mark Barnett

June 2019

Today people in the UK have more choice and control of how they wish to pay than ever  before – whether in-store, online or anywhere around the world. At Mastercard we’re constantly investing in and deploying the most advanced technology that keeps payments safe and secure, while making the experience as convenient as possible.

Over the last 30 years the way we live our lives has changed beyond all recognition. The creation of the internet and digital innovation has dramatically altered how we work, spend our free time and buy the things we want. How we pay has had to adapt and rise to the challenge of how our lifestyles have evolved.

Whether shopping securely online to bag a bargain, speeding through ticket gates with a tap of a card, or using your smart phone to shop on the go, are just a few examples of what millions of us do today that Mastercard and others in the payments system have made possible.

However, innovation which makes our lives more convenient, cheaper or faster, is meaningless unless whenever a payment is involved it’s secure and reliable. The consumer trust we have built over time is largely a result of us ensuring our systems are safe and dependable.

We also know that people want peace of mind of being protected should something go wrong with a purchase, and by using our cards UK consumers have the means to get their money back should they not receive what they paid for. Other cardholders see great value in rewards and loyalty programmes. Mastercard delivers on all these benefits and by doing so offers consumers real choice in how to pay.

As you would expect, there are underlying costs to making any payment – including cash – but in the UK today consumers pay the same price for their shopping however they chose to pay. In our system, costs are shared by the business accepting a payment, banks and Mastercard, as all of us benefit from a consumer’s purchase, so it’s right that all of us contribute toward to the cost of the payment system. We have always said these costs are the cost of doing business.

So why are you hearing about claims for money and collective actions against us? This relates to a claim brought in the UK on behalf of UK consumers by a US-based class action plaintiffs’ law firm and is linked to a past European Court judgment. However, this European ruling from 2007 relates to different European fees. The claim is therefore fundamentally misconceived. We do not accept that there was any impact on UK fees or UK consumers.

Collective or ‘Class’ actions are new for the UK, but in the United States, class action lawyers have attempted to bring almost identical claims against us, and virtually all of those cases were thrown out by the courts, often long before any trial. And this is where we are in the UK, this claim doesn’t have permission to proceed, and Mastercard will continue to oppose it.

No matter the outcome, Mastercard will continue to offer consumers the ongoing benefits of security, choice and convenience from our payment technology, both here in the UK, and across the world.

Mark Barnett is Division President, United Kingdom and Ireland for MasterCard.