Portugal lockout competition


Portugal has its own interbank network which is owned and operated by SIBS, SA who itself is owned by the Portuguese banks. What happens in Portugal is that merchants are offered the possibility to accept payment only through the SIBS network and not Mastercard, VISA or any other international network provider. Supposedly this is intended to protect merchants from paying fees to the international providers. But what it really does is lockout competition from providers that do not participate in the SIBS network (known as Multibanco) and force people to use Portuguese banks. I have recently joined Revolut and I think it is the most innovative and interesting financial app I have ever seen. It gives me almost everything I ever wanted from a banking provider in terms of managing my day to day finances. What I have found though is that my Revolut card has been rejected in two restaurants now (in Portugal) because they only accept the local Portuguese interbank network payments provider. I have serious doubts as to whether this is even legal as is protects the local established banks and institutions like yours against competition from other EU providers.




I’m from Portugal and that situation is happening to me in the same way, I’ve the Revolut card from some months, and before of this “problems” at the time of proceeding a payment in their terminal, it was presented options of what currency I wanted to use to apply the payment and proceed to type the PIN to finish the payment process.

Lately, maybe 1 month till now, the card is getting rejected in any merchant terminal (ex. restaurants). The card is inserted in the terminal via chip reader, after the merchant insert the value to pay and when I want to confirm the value, it gives card rejected.

So the only way to make use of this card is using the cash machines to make some withdrawals or make payments but in credit mode, which few merchants where I normal pay expenses don’t have the credit contract associated in their terminal.

Has anyone know if there is something changed in Portugal so the cards started to get rejected?!



If the merchant doesn‘t accept the card network of your card, there is little what you can do apart from paying cash or going somewhere else, whatever you like more.

Every merchant can choose to offer whatever payment methods he likes, as long as customers don‘t care, that won‘t change.

It‘s rather similar in other countries that still have a local payment network, like „girocard“ in germany - 90++% of german citizens have those from their banks and hardly anyone uses „credit cards“ here, so merchants generally don‘t care much and simply don‘t loose anything by not offering those more expensive (for them) networks like Mastercard/VISA, let alone Amex.

There‘s nothing illegal about it, it‘s an open market situation that only slowly changes if the demand changes.



Hello SLZ,

I understand that the merchant is free to choose the card network he wants to work, because for the merchant here in Portugal payments in debit have lower fees than credit payments, that’s why that most merchants in Portugal choose to only have active contract in their terminal just for payments in debit. the fees for payment in credit are very high.

But the question/point here, is that the one of the merchants I know didn’t change anything, it only has active contract in his terminal for debit payments, also the terminal still the same, and about 2 months ago, for some reason it started giving card refused for no reason with payment in debit, I didn’t try the payment by credit because the terminal would give an error of Terminal Without Contract, meaning that the merchant don’t have an active contract for credit payments.

So, that’s why I’m trying to make the point/question in this, what happened for the SIBS/“Multibanco” card system to start rejecting the cards with debit payments, when few months ago it worked without problems?

Did for ex. Revolut had some sort of agreement to accept the cards in SISB/“Multibanco” card network in Portugal?



When you restrict competition from other banks from the EU by providing a network to which only local banks have access to, I would suggest this violates the EU treaties?



No FinTech (I’m aware of) ever cared for any local payment scheme, but if you want to be sure, you need to contact the in-app support and ask that.

I’m sure it’s some other, totally unrelated problem you see. But maybe I’m misunderstanding something what you’re trying to do.
Mastercard/VISA payments in countries like USA always should be “credit”, even the cards are debit or prepaid cards, because “debit” means something different (local payment networks) there.
Not sure if that is the same in Portugal, I never had any problems paying with a Mastercard or VISA there to be quite frank, but it has been some years since I traveled there.

maybe some other community member can share some better experience there than me.