Proposed Variation to the MasterCard and Visa Access Regimes: Consultation Document – December 2013 1. Introduction

The Bank initiated a public consultation on the Access Regimes applying to the MasterCard credit and the Visa credit and Visa Debit systems in May. The Regimes, which came into place in 2004 and 2005, were designed to expand access to the card schemes in Australia and stemmed from concerns that the schemes' restrictions on entry had not struck the right balance between competition in the payments system and the financial safety of the schemes.

The recent consultation was prompted by concerns that the regimes in their current form may no longer be fulfilling their original objective, and may now be preventing some prospective scheme participants from entry. As a result of recent developments in the card issuing and acquiring markets and views expressed during the consultation process, the Bank is considering the case for modifying the Access Regimes to potentially expand access to a wider range of entities.[1]

This document outlines the views presented during the recent consultation process and seeks further comments on options for reform of access, including the Bank's preferred approach to varying the current Access Regimes. Section 2 of the document provides background on current access arrangements in Australia. Section 3 outlines the problem that has given rise to the current review and Section 4 sets out the objective of reform. Section 5 discusses the various views from the initial consultation on this issue, while Section 6 sets out the options for reform. Section 7 provides the Bank's preliminary evaluation of the options. Section 8 discusses the elements of a proposed variation to the Regimes and Section 9 provides details of the next steps in the process. Attachment 1 contains a list of questions posed to interested parties in the Bank's preliminary consultation, while the proposed variations to the Regimes are set out in Attachment 2.


Card issuing is providing payment cards to individuals or businesses, maintaining accounts associated with those cards and clearing and settling payment obligations arising from the use of those cards with acquirers. Card acquiring is providing a merchant with facilities to accept card payments, accounting to the merchant for the proceeds of card transactions and clearing and settling the resulting obligations with card issuers. [1]