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Visa Europe considers Hungary pullout

Payments company Visa Europe is considering pulling out of Hungary because lower interchange fees - which translate as lower revenue for cardholders' banks - have drastically reduced business, daily Népszabadság said on Thursday. Visa Europe said it had prepared a strategy for a withdrawal from Hungary in a letter to National Economy Ministry state secretary Gyula Pleschinger obtained by Népszabadság. Lower interchange fees have caused the number of Visa cards in Hungary to fall by one-third to around 1m in just a year and a half, according to the letter. Visa lowered its interchange fee - a fee typically paid by the retailer's bank to the cardholder's bank every time a bank or credit card is used - to 0.2% after a decision by Hungary's Competition Office in 2008 to levy HUF 1.9 billion in fines for cartel activity among payments companies and banks. But competitor MasterCard - which controls more than 80% of the bank card market in Hungary - only lowered its interchange fee to 0.6%.