Visit to Swiss banks: The Weko Commission aims at Swiss financial institutions. A two-day raid began on Tuesday at Credit Suisse (CS), PostFinance and UBS, as well as Aduno and Swisscard credit card companies. Companies are said to have boycotted Apple Pay and Samsung Pay for Twint (see Box).
Mobile payment is not used at all
According to the Swiss Payments Monitoring Service of the University of Applied Sciences in Zurich, Twint is the most popular mobile payment solution in Switzerland. However, mobile phone payments are still rarely used in the store. The rate is now 1.5%, more than half of the payments are in cash. Debit cards represent 19 percent of the payments in the store.
What happened during the raids?
Weko officials, along with the police and an employee, received the offices of the affected companies without warning early Tuesday morning. There they made copies of all papers on paper, hard drives, laptops or mobile phones that could influence the investigation. "It was a surgery, we came and we got what we needed – then the companies could continue to work normally," says Olivier Schaller, vice president of Weko, in 20 minutes. The raid on all companies took a total of two days.
What is the charge?
Weko suspects CS, PostFinance, UBS, Aduno and Swisscard have agreed to boycott Apple Pay and Samsung Pay payment solutions. Instead of these international providers, institutions would prefer the Swiss Twint solution to their credit cards.
Why is this a problem?
If there was a boycott, it would be an unacceptable restriction of competition. Credit Suisse, UBS and PostFinance are among Twint's major shareholders, so it may be in the interest of companies to give their own solution to the Swiss market.
How did Weko fall into suspicion?
Weko's Olivier Schaller says only: "We have received information that gives us reasons to investigate the case." From what source the information comes from, it does not want to betray the protection of the parties involved.
What will be the consequences?
If the suspicion succeeds and Weko finds a serious violation of the Swiss antitrust law, companies could face a large penalty. According to Schaller, companies could be charged 10% of the turnover generated in Switzerland in the last three financial years. Credit Suisse, for example, produces about 5.5 billion francs of sales per year in Switzerland. Thus, a fine of FRF 1,7 billion could be perceived.
What do companies say?
Suspicious companies are convinced that allegations will be unfounded. That's what CS, PostFinance and Swisscard say in their comments. In CS, he also reports that the bank has been negotiating with Apple, Samsung and Google for months with the introduction of mobile phone payment solutions. UBS writes that it tried in 2016 to find an agreement with Apple Pay, but failed. Swisscard, which owns 50% of CS, emphasizes that its customers have long been able to use Apple Pay (November 2016) and Samsung Pay (August 2017).
How serious is it really?
Even if the companies concerned are loose, Weko's actions should not be underestimated. Because, according to antitrust law, the Commission must already have evidence of violation before launching an investigation. "We are investigating what has happened in the last two years," says Schaller from Weko. How long the investigation will be conducted is vague.
What about other providers?
The object of the Weko survey is, among other things, the issuer of the Cembra Money Bank card. This offers four Samsung Pay cards, but not Apple Pay. Cembra issues the Cumulus credit card for Migros, among others. Even with Migros' competitors, Coop customers can not use Supercard Apple and Samsung Pay credit cards. At present, the survey focuses on the banks that collaborated with Twint, says Olivier Schaller from Weko at SDA News Agency. But this should not remain so in the future.