EU regulators drop antitrust probe into e-payments market

EU regulators will drop a 16-month investigation into a group of banks including HSBC, Deutsche Bank and BBVA , after it abandoned plans to launch a standardization process for e-payments, the EU's antitrust chief said on Friday.

The decision by the European Payments Council "will allow us to close our investigation because alternative, non-bank systems could then remain in or enter the market", EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia told a Concurrences Journal conference in Paris.

The European Commission opened the investigation into the EPC in September 2011 following a complaint by German online payment provider Payment Network AG.

(Reporting by Foo Yun CheeCharlie Dunmore)