British Retailers Up in Arms About Rising Card Fees

Sep 17, 2021


Trade organisations representing tens of thousands of retail and hospitality businesses UK-wide have joined forces to call on the Government for urgent action on soaring costs and anti-competitive practices in the card payment sector.

The British Retail Consortium, British Independent Retailers Association, Association of Convenience Stores, Federation of Small Businesses and UKHospitality united to amplify their concerns over the damage being wrought by ever-higher card fees, adding to the price of goods and services and hurting businesses of all sizes, with knock-on effects for their customers.

Their appeal to Parliament for immediate action was prompted by the close of consultation on the UK Payment Systems Regulator’s five-year strategy. The collective says the national regulator has failed to meet its statutory objectives and the new strategy is ‘a five-year license to deliver very little.’

Our national regulator is proposing vague and distant goals for tackling today’s payment problems and it’s far too little, too late.
"Andrew CreganHead of Finance PolicyBritish Retail Consortium

Retailers spent £1.3 billion in 2020 to accept card payments, 99 percent of which were Mastercard or Visa. These costs—equivalent to around £46 per household ($64/€54)—are in turn passed on to customers in the form of higher prices.

This latest call for action echoes last November’s demand for decisive action on credit and debit card transaction fees, and a subsequent UK Supreme Court ruling that a £14 billion class action against Mastercard could proceed, with the company accused over overcharging 46 million Brits over the course of 15 years. The trial is yet to move forward, as is the progress called for by British businesses.

One area in which the Payment System’s Regulator has seen more approval is its prioritisation of securing long-term access to cash. James Lowman, Chief Executive of the Association of Convenience Stores, notes that ‘convenience retailers play a crucial role in providing access to cash for consumers in communities right across the country’ and is supportive of this aspect of the five-year strategy.

Last Updated: Sep 17, 2021