Could be a silly question. I do know many software companies that prevent / have a write up on how the clients cannot use a competitor product for a specific time/ duration after they stop using their services. Do companies like Mastercard and Visa have something similar that a client cannot use mastercard if they prefer VISA as their primary vendor? I do hear at some places that they do not accept master card / AMEX, is this a competitor aggrement that stops them from using master card / AMEX (or) is it the high processing fee that stops them from using their services?

In short: Is there any way a client using VISA be restricted from using mastercard's service (or) vice versa?

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    Can you provide an actual example of the software companies forcing a client non-compete? Typically, non-competes and non-solicitation agreements are for employees. I've never heard of a vendor prohibiting clients from using a competitor's product. At my previous consulting company, our client used at least 3 competing IT consulting companies' services concurrently. I'm not sure that's even legal (e.g. Microsoft saying "You are now using Windows, you can only use Microsoft for 24 months from the time of your license activation"). A competitive market relies on being able to change products.
    – Noah
    Sep 15, 2014 at 20:39
  • @Noah When I was consulting during 2008 my manager could not hire me full time since there was a no hire policy which was between my client and the consulting firm, that was the basis on which I constructed this question. I always though AMEX and mastercard were not accepted by certain vendors assuming they had some kind of MOU with competitor company like VISA.
    – rao
    Sep 15, 2014 at 20:54
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    Right, when you're consulting, your client generally cannot hire you directly. That doesn't stop your client from seeking the services of another consulting company (either as a replacement or a supplement), which is a more correct comparison to your question.
    – Noah
    Sep 15, 2014 at 20:57
  • @Noah Please post your comment as an answer, I will accept it. I always assumed MOU's would stop clients from using competitor services during their tenure at a company.
    – rao
    Sep 15, 2014 at 21:00
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    Given the gazillions of businesses accepting both MasterCard and VISA, it seems like such restrictions are rarely imposed or enforced, even assuming they're legal.
    – BrenBarn
    Sep 16, 2014 at 2:09

2 Answers 2


Disclaimer: Answer based on a comment conversation

In the context of consulting firms, non-solicitation clauses and MOUs are generally done to protect the firms' assets (read: its workers), and are in place to prevent clients from poaching workers from the consulting firms.

They do not prohibit a client from seeking the services of a competitor. Since that's the basis of a competitive market, I don't think they can legally write such a clause [citation needed].

They can sell you software which is bound by license to run only on specific hardware (see: Apple's ecosystem), but they can't prohibit you from purchasing a different solution (Apple can't sue you if you purchase a Microsoft product).


As a counterpoint to the accepted answer, during the London 2012 Olympics (sponsored by Visa), the official shop and those concessionaires who were allowed to operate within official venues all said something like this, in an extraordinary application of the word proud:

"In recognition of Visa's longstanding support of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, the London 2012 Shop is proud to only accept card payments by Visa."


But this is more to do with the madness of the commercial arrangements surrounding the Olympics, rather than the payment card schemes themselves...

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