ASFAC offers commitments to the AdC to eliminate the restrictive potential of the information exchange system in the market for specialized credit

 

​Press Release 13/2017

ASFAC offers commitments to the AdC to eliminate the restrictive potential of the information exchange system in the market for specialized credit

 

The Portuguese Competition Authority (Autoridade da Concorrência – AdC) opened proceedings against ASFAC – Associação de Instituições de Crédito Especializado (ASFAC) – the Portuguese Association of specialised consumer credit providers - and 37 of its associated members, for alleged infringements of the competition rules, on April 23rd, 2015.

The investigation carried out revealed the existence of a system for the exchange of sensitive strategic information related to products and services in the markets for leasing, ALD, credit, revolving and stock, directly promoted by ASFAC, involving associated companies.

Considering the type of information, its age, the level of disaggregation and the target of the information exchanged, the AdC considers, on a preliminary basis, that the information exchange system institutionalized by ASFAC could be likely to promote a restrictive effect on competition, through the likely reduction of uncertainty in the market, allowing participants to act in the possession of sensitive information of its competitors, as well as frequently monitor their strategic behaviour.
In order to respond to the competition concerns expressed by the AdC, ASFAC presented the following set of commitments:

  1. Obligation not to disclose to its members individualized data with an age of less than three months in the framework of the institutionalized system for the exchange of information;
  2. Provision of full access to such data not only to the associated undertakings that participate in the collection and transmission of information, but also to non- member companies which request it on the basis of their interest in preparing for market entry;
  3. Monthly disclosure on the website of the Association of monthly reports containing aggregated and never individualized information; and
  4. Informing the associated undertakings of the approval of amendments to the information exchange system in line with the commitments.

Overall, the commitments undertaken by ASFAC increase the age of the information exchanged between the associated undertakings, reducing their strategic value and the restrictive potential of the exchange of information.

According to Law n.º 19/2012, of 8 may (Competition Law), the AdC may accept the commitments offered by the undertakings at stake in the proceedings, when it considers that the commitments offered are likely to eliminate the negative effects of the investigated practices on competition.

ASFAC is obliged to comply with the set of commitments now offered to the AdC, under the Authority’s supervision.

The commitments offered by ASFAC are, as from today, subject to public consultation for a period of 20 working days.

Following the public consultation, a final decision will be adopted in which the AdC will take into account the comments presented by interested third parties.

The results of the public consultation will be published on the Authority’s official website.

ASFAC, in its capacity as an association of companies, is subject to the application of the Competition Law, and its decisions and / or initiatives may raise the scrutiny of the Competition Authority whenever these are likely to interfere with the free play of competition.