FCCPC Warns PoS Operators Against Price Fixing, Opens Investigation

FCCPC’s Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, Babatunde Irukera

By Miriam Humbe

The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has said that it received information from multiple (including credible media) channels that apparently emanates from what appears to be a collective otherwise identified as the Lagos Chapter of the Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents in Nigeria (AMMBAN).

A statement signed on Wednesday by the Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the FCCPC, Mr. Babatunde Irukera said the information was an announcement conveying a purported decision of AMMBAN on behalf of certain Point of Sale (PoS) operators which included setting uniform prices across operators for a range of transaction services.

He said that the Federal Competition & Consumer Protection Act (2018) (FCCPA) recognized; indeed encouraged the prerogative of businesses to organise in, and as trade associations for acceptable purposes, such as ensuring and enforcing applicable standards and best practices, as well as a measure of self-regulation within the profession or trade.

Irukera said however, the same FCCPA copiously and extensively limits the scope and extent of such collaboration, particularly to exclude coordination with respect to scope or supply of services and price of services.

He said: “The FCCPA expressly prohibits any price-fixing or agreement among undertakings (whether bilaterally or multilaterally) or by undertakings acting in consensus on the platform, or under the aegis of an association to fix prices, coordinate supply or any other commercially sensitive factors that can limit or substantially prevent competition; or otherwise distort the market.

“An aspiration by members of a profession or businesses in a trade association to prevent fraud; excessive or unjust prices is laudable, however, fixing prices is not an acceptable or even proven way to accomplish these goals.”

The FCCPC helmsman said on the contrary, fixing prices distorted the market, prevented innovation and efficiency and does not redound to the benefit of consumers or other businesses except the participants of such illegal conspiracies or conduct.

He said the FCCPA provided stiff penalties for cartels or any similar coordinated or collusive conduct among competitors, even at association levels; and the Commission would seek to enforce the law to its fullest extent possible where there was sufficient evidence that a business had, or was participating in any such prohibited conduct or arrangement either directly, or indirectly.

He said: “To the extent that any combination of undertakings, including AMMBAN indeed, met, agreed or decided to impose uniform or coordinated fees/tariffs for services, this announcement should serve to ensure such undertakings cease and desist from that arrangement or similar discussions/conduct.”

The EVC said the Commission was also opening an investigation to ensure the purported statement by AMBANN was not truly representative or erroneous.

He said: “Where evidence demonstrates that the statement is factually accurate, the Commission will take appropriate regulatory steps to address the conduct accordingly.”

The Commission therefore, invited consumers to provide useful and credible information that can assist investigation and enforcement in this regard.

Contributors are invited to provide feedback to the Commission at contact@fccpc.gov.ng

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