The UK’s competition authority has approved Mastercard’s £700m acquisition of payments technology company Vocalink, after Mastercard allayed competition concerns by agreeing to open up some of Vocalink’s network to competitors.

Vocalink was previously owned by a group of 18 UK banks and building societies, including Lloyds Banking Group, Barclays, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland and Santander.

Mastercard initially announced the takeover last July, but the Competition and Markets Authority raised concerns that it could stifle competition among companies that run the UK’s cash machine network.

Vocalink and Mastercard are two of only three credible providers of services for the Link ATM system.

In response, Mastercard and Vocalink have agreed to open up Vocalink’s existing network to a new services supplier, and to contribute to the costs of Link members which wish to change to a new supplier. Vocalink will also transfer certain intellectual property rights related to messaging on the network to Link.

The CMA said the proposals were sufficient to address its concerns, and Mastercard said it now expects the deal to be completed in the next few weeks.

Michael Miebach, Mastercard chief product officer, said:

Adding bank account-based payments alongside our card network extends what we can do and how we can do it. Together, we’ll be one partner to meet all payment needs of businesses, governments and consumers.

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