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Facing antitrust claim, Chile's Transbank says fees are 'competitive'

Chilean card payment processor Transbank S.A., which is in the middle of a legal battle with antitrust regulator TDLC, argued that its fees are among the lowest in Latin America, Diario Financiero reported.

Ricardo Blumel, Transbank's marketing head, reportedly said the company's credit and debit card fees are the lowest in the continent. Speaking at an event in Santiago, the executive also said the fees depended on exchange rate fluctuations and a lack of an established rate for card transactions in Chile.

The comments follow Banco Santander Chile's decision to end its contract with Transbank. The bank's move came after claims by TDLC that the company charges abusive fees to affiliated businesses and ordered Transbank to set a new rate that does not discriminate by categories or items but will be tied to the number of transactions in each trade.

The court also recommended separating Transbank's functions of payments acquisitions and payments processing.

Transbank currently operates as payment operator and acquirer, which means that the company processes transactions and at the same time partners with merchants so that they accept cards from banks in their point-of-sale systems, after which they charge a fee.

The company, which was created in 1989, is owned by a group of seven Chilean banks including Santander Chile, which currently owns a 24.99% stake.