During the PSR’s card acquiring market review, evidence was provided which showed that scheme fees (included in the fees which merchants pay in order to accept card payments) had increased significantly. In addition, cross-border interchange fees have increased significantly in recent months. Taken together, these developments pose important questions as to whether there are sufficient competitive constraints on card schemes.
We have always said that if we see an issue with fees that required attention outside the scope of our market review, we would consider what action we should take. Our recently published Strategy highlights the significant focus we will be giving to competition in payments – including a longer-term vision to see account-to-account payments become a viable alternative for retail payments, providing greater competition to cards. This should lead to lower fees for merchants and ultimately lower prices for consumers.
Unlocking the potential of account-to-account payments will take some time to deliver. While we drive this forward, we also want to identify what we might need to do to address any harm that may arise from scheme fees and cross-border interchange fees.
In November we announced we will investigate this matter and assess whether any action is required. To enable us to establish where our enquiries should be focussed, we have made initial information requests. This includes questions to help us understand the factors that affect the level and structure of these fees and the reasons behind any changes in them.
Once we have assessed the information we have requested, we can then identify where we should direct our attention and set out what our programme of work will look like.
If you have any questions, concerns or would like to provide information about how changes in either scheme fees or cross-border interchange fees have affected you as a merchant, consumer or provider of payment services, please contact the project team at firstname.lastname@example.org.