The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission(FCCPC) has begun investigation into the activities of the Lagos Chapter of the Association of Mobile Money and Bank Agents in Nigeria (AMMBAN) over setting uniform prices for their services.
Babatunde Irukera,Executive Vice Chairman/ Chief Executive Officer of FCCPC,who confirmed this in a statement on Wednesday,said the Commission
had received information from multiple channels, including credible media, on 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,the Federal Competition & Consumer Protection Act (2018) (FCCPA) recognises; indeed encourages 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.
He,however,maintained that FCCPA 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.
According to him,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.
He expressed that 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.
He added that fixing prices distorts the market, prevents 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 provides stiff penalties for cartels or any similar coordinated or collusive conduct among competitors, even at association levels; and the Commission will seek to enforce the law to its fullest extent possible where there is sufficient evidence that a business has, or is participating in any such prohibited conduct or arrangement either directly, or indirectly.
“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 Commission is also opening an investigation to ensure the purported statement by AMBANN is not truly representative or erroneous. Where evidence demonstrates that the statement is factually accurate, the Commission will take appropriate regulatory steps to address the conduct accordingly.”