In anticipation of a possible regulation of ATM usage fees, the Austrian Federal Competition Authority (FCA) has analyzed the Austrian debit card payment system.
- The aim of the report is to provide recommendations on the basis of an objective market analysis concerning a possible regulation of ATM charges;
- in the interest of consumers, effective market regulation has to consider the impact on all market participants to ensure a framework that enables effective competition in the market.
During the investigation, which has been ongoing since may 2016
- numerous and intensive discussions were held with institutions and stakeholders (Federal Ministry of Finance, Federal Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Consumer Protection, the National Bank, the Financial Market Authority, the European Commission, Austrian Chamber of Labour, Austrian Chamber of Commerce etc.),
- a bank survey and a bank customer survey were carried out,
- a large amount of data (provided by banks and third party operators of ATMs) were analyzed.
In summary, the study revealed 5 significant results:
- 95% of the bank customers use the debit card for withdrawals; 76% use ATM debit cards for cashless payment transactions. The frequency of cashless payment transactions has increased significantly in recent years, while the number of ATM transactions have remained approximately the same.
- 43% of the surveyed debit card holders couldn't say how much they are paying for their current accounts . Only one in five respondents knows his or her costs accurately.
- From the customer's point of view, the legal prohibition of withdrawal charges is not effective, since banks would have numerous other options for introducing new fees for current accounts.
- In recent years, the number of third-party operated ATMs (First Data; Euronet) has increased. A prohibition of ATM surcharges might force operators to exit the market and/or to reduce the number of ATM locations.
- In summary, the promotion of competition in the current account business by increasing transparency and reducing switching barriers, perhaps in combination with regulating the service fees between banks and ATM operators, would be the most promising way both to increase the efficiency of the card payment system and to enable consumers to benefit appropriately from the generated efficiency gains.
For press inquiries:
Sarah Fürlinger LL.M.
+43 (0)1 24508 - 352
Mag. Marcus Becka LL.M.
+43 (0)1 24508 - 319