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MR18/1.7 - Market review into the supply of card-acquiring services: Interim report

Published 15 09 2020
Closes 08 12 2020

We have published our interim report on the supply of card acquiring services which shows that merchants could make savings by shopping around and either switching or negotiating with their current provider – but many small and medium ones don’t. 

Market review into the supply of card-acquiring services

We have been carrying out a market review into card-acquiring services following concerns that the supply of these services may not be working well for merchants, and ultimately consumers.

The draft terms of reference for our work were published in July 2018, followed by final terms of reference in January 2019 taking account of the feedback we received.

As part of our work, we have been examining how competition in the supply of card acquiring services operates. This includes looking at the fees merchants pay for card-acquiring services and the quality of service they receive. 

This interim report provides a detailed overview of this sector and has assessed whether the supply of card-acquiring services is working well for merchants, and ultimately consumers. In line with our objectives, we have also considered any impact on innovation and the interests of service-users.

Why is this report important?

Card-acquiring services enable merchants – like a newsagent or supermarket – to accept card payments. 

While card-acquiring services may not be something many consumers have heard about, the cost that merchants pay to use them will, for example, affect how much people pay for shopping. As more and more of us are using cards to make payments, it is increasingly important that the market is working well for everyone.

What this report contains

Our interim report includes several potential remedies to make it easier to search and switch for a new provider or better deal, including:

  • Requiring all contracts for card-acquiring services to have an end date, providing a prompt for merchants to shop around.
  • Requiring changes to POS terminal contracts to limit their length, ending contracts that auto-renew for successive fixed terms and making it easier to exit POS terminal contracts without incurring exit fees.
  • Making it easier for merchants to research and compare prices and options available to them. 

Next steps

We are now consulting on the contents of our interim report and are keen to get feedback on the proposed remedies. The publication of the interim report will be followed by a consultation period of 12 weeks. The deadline for feedback is 8 December 2020.

You can email your comments to cards@psr.org.uk 

After we have considered this feedback and discussed it further with stakeholders, we will finalise our findings and publish a Final Report in 2021.

This document should be read alongside:

 

We have also set out our plans to disclose material underlying our pass-through analysis through a ‘confidentiality ring’, to help in responding to the consultation. 

Access to the confidentiality ring will be granted to a limited number of approved external economic and/or legal advisers of certain parties with an interest in the consultation. These external advisers and their employer firms will be required to sign undertakings before they will be granted access to the confidentiality ring. 

We invite interested parties to submit expressions of interest for their external legal and/or economic advisers to access the confidentiality ring. We also invite parties expressing an interest to submit any comments they may have on the PSR’s proposed approach to disclosing the material, including the draft undertakings