ACCC launches actions against failed payments company Bill Express

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has launched Federal Court action against electronic payments company Bill Express and related company Technology Business International, both of which are in liquidation.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has launched Federal Court action against electronic payments company Bill Express and related company Technology Business International, both of which are in liquidation.

The competition watchdog alleges the two companies engaged in third line forcing by offering to supply customers with Bill Express’s electronic payments products and services on the condition that the customers rent electronic payment equipment from TBI.

The ACCC estimates that between 3500 and 4500 merchants entered agreements to rent equipment from TBI as a result of the alleged third line forcing. Approximately 2800 merchants have existing contracts.

The ACCC has also launched action against BNY Trust Company of Australia and Mobius Financial Services, alleging the companies were “knowingly concerned” in the alleged third line forcing. This action has been taken on behalf of two merchants, but will serve as a test case for all affected merchants.

The ACCC says that the rights of TBI to receive monthly rental payments from merchants have been assigned to BNY. Despite the fact Bill Express has collapsed, BNY and its agents have continued to demand and debit payment of the equipment rental fees from each merchant of approximately $550 per month.

The competition watchdog wants Federal Court orders declaring the rental agreements entered into by two representative merchants to be void and that BNY repay to the two representative merchants all money paid to BNY or its agents.

The ACCC also wants a permanent injunction preventing BNY from requesting or recovering any payment from any merchants under the rental agreements or launching legal proceedings to force merchants to pay up.

The matter has been filed in the Federal Court’s “fast track list” and is listed for a scheduling conference in Melbourne on 17 December.

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