Payment software deal does not raise competition concerns

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The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been investigating Bottomline Technology’s completed purchase of the Experian Payments Gateway (EPG) business from Experian Limited.

Bottomline and EPG provide payments software used by businesses to submit direct debits, make payroll payments and pay suppliers. This software allows customers of Bottomline and EPG to make payments via the Bacs and Faster Payments Direct Corporate Access systems.

After completing its initial Phase 1 investigation, the CMA was concerned that the merger may reduce competition and the merged company may increase prices, reduce product availability, or reduce its investment in innovation.

However, following further in-depth analysis carried out as part of a Phase 2 investigation led by an independent group of panel members, the CMA has now provisionally found that the merger is not likely to raise competition concerns. This is largely because the CMA has found that EPG was no longer a strong force in the market and that, following the deal, there remain enough alternative providers competing with Bottomline for customers.

The CMA also looked in more detail at the possibility that, under alternative ownership, EPG would have become a more active competitor than it was before the merger but provisionally determined that this was not the case.

The CMA now seeks views on these findings by 10 March 2020 and will assess all evidence provided before making a final decision.

The statutory deadline for the CMA’s final report is 5 April 2020.

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