The Association of Convenience Store (ACS) has welcomed an update from the Treasury Committee on the increasing cost of card payments for businesses in the UK.
In response to a letter from the Committee Chair, the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) outline that it has not seen evidence that the costs of operating payment services have increased for card issuers to warrant the recent increases in fees.
The correspondence states interchange fees are paid by businesses to card issuers each time a card is used by a consumer. In October, both Mastercard and Visa increased cross-border interchange fees for debit and credit card transactions, from 0.2% to 0.3% and 1.15% to 1.5% respectively. According to the PSR, the two card companies account for 99% of all card transactions.
Amazon has recently prevented consumers from paying with Visa credit cards as a result of the increased fees.
Findings from ACS’ Voice of Local Shops Survey found that 61% of independent and symbol retailers have not compared or switched acquirers in the past three years; and 48% of retailers who have compared providers in the past three years did not choose to switch.
ACS’ most recent submission on the acquiring review recommends acquirers are required to provide all pricing information in an easily comparable format, contracts have compulsory end-dates, and measures to ensure payment terminal contracts do not unduly prevent switching activity.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Local shops play a key role in providing customers with a variety of payment methods, but the complexity of the card acquirer market and rising costs makes this increasingly expensive for convenience retailers.
“We are pleased that the Treasury Committee has been examining the cost of card payments for businesses. These costs continue to increase for small businesses and ultimately impact consumer prices. The Payment Systems Regulator needs to go one step further and set out a timetable for how it is planning to review scheme fees to provide businesses with clarification.”
A consultation on proposals to improve the card acquirer market for small businesses is due in January and ACS said it will be responding to in due course.