Atlantic Money Takes Wise Complaint To Brussels

March 29, 2023
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Money transfer firm Atlantic Money has confirmed it has escalated its antitrust claim against Wise to the European Commission’s competition department.

Money transfer firm Atlantic Money has confirmed it has escalated its antitrust claim against Wise to the European Commission’s competition department.

Atlantic Money has approached a second regulator about its fallout with fellow fintech Wise, which delisted the company in January.

Having first raised its concerns in January with the Competition and Markets Authority in the UK, Atlantic Money is now seeking greater clarity in the cross-border transfer market for EU consumers as well.

Wise delisted Atlantic Money from its price comparison tool and denied the company access to several third-party price comparison sites that the stock-listed company owns and controls.

In its letter to DG Comp, Atlantic Money argues that this decision is a consequence of it being a commercial threat to Wise, and states that it believes Wise’s conduct is in breach of Article 102 of the Treaty of the Functioning of the EU, which aims to encourage competition and innovation for consumers within the trading bloc.

It also namedrops the EU’s landmark Digital Markets Act (DMA), which is intended by regulators to place tougher compliance requirements on bigtech companies.

“Our belief that Wise’s actions hinder competition and innovation is reinforced by the DMA which entered into force on 1 November 2022 and which will start to apply as of May 2023,” the letter says.

Aiming to create a level playing field across the EU, the DMA restricts the behaviour of large companies that qualify as so-called “gatekeepers”.

In particular, the DMA will prohibit gatekeepers from self-preferencing their own services over those of their competitors, and require gatekeepers to provide clear and non-discriminatory terms and conditions for the use of their platforms.

“This is exactly the type of behaviour that is the subject of our complaint,” the letter says.

According to Neeraj Baid, the company’s co-founder, Wise’s conduct is “clearly not in the interests of consumers who ultimately will suffer in the form of paying significantly higher fees”.

“Wise is exploiting its previously established, and now false, image as a consumer advocate to drive profit for its shareholders by unfairly promoting its own products,” said Baid in a statement to the press. “We think this is unacceptable and look forward to working with the European Commission and all other necessary regulatory stakeholders.”

When approached, a spokesperson for Wise told VIXIO: “We’re really proud to have the comparison tool as part of our website, and we’re not afraid to list cheaper competitors. We’ve done that for years and still do.”

“We decided to remove Atlantic Money for the time being for a number of operational reasons, including queries received from customers about their business. We take any complaints very seriously.”

Atlantic Money, meanwhile, has said that it has asked for more details about these queries, which it has not received.

In response to the delisting decision, the firm has also pointed out that both companies are regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK and the National Bank of Belgium in the EU, and that both firms have received investment from the same venture capital firm, Index Ventures.

The timing of Atlantic Money's announcement is a little embarrassing for Wise. On Tuesday, VIXIO reported on how the UK fintech had taken aim at its bank competitors, which it claims were hiding fees by making healthy margins on exchange rates.

In an appeal to the public, it encouraged consumers to feedback to HM Treasury’s payments regulation review and tell their stories of high cross-border fees.

“Help us ban hidden fees and make transparency in international payments the norm by responding to the Payment Services Regulations’ Call for Evidence,” the company appealed to the public.

“Explain how you or someone you know was ripped off by hidden fees and what needs to change.”

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