On 26 January 2022, we published our initial remedies consultation for the card-acquiring market review.

What does the publication outline? 

The publication sets out proposals to improve services and choice for merchants. To make sure the market works better for merchants, we are considering the following four potential remedies:

  1. Greater transparency: to help merchants understand the pricing elements of any services they use, card-acquirers should provide summary information boxes setting out key price and non-price service elements of card-acquiring services. These should be in both bespoke form and published with general information in generic format.
  2. Access to comparison tools: like price comparison websites, the PSR wants the industry to help stimulate Digital Comparison Tools (DCTs) for merchants so they can see whether they are getting the best deal.
  3. Greater engagement: to help merchants know when their contracts are due for renewal, there needs to be an agreed standard of messaging by providers that will help merchants understand that their contract is due for renewal and the terms of the contract on an annual basis.
  4. The ability to change providers easily: the PSR wants to address barriers to switching between card-acquiring services, which arise from Point of Sale (POS) terminal leases,​ by looking at potential options for merchants to switch without incurring undue cost or suffering inconvenience from having to also exchange their POS terminal. This may include the replacement of terminals by POS terminal lease providers for instance.  

What are card acquiring services and why do they matter?

Every time somebody makes a card payment – for example, when buying their weekly groceries – the merchant uses card-acquiring services to accept the payment. These services are critical to the UK economy because they enable consumers and businesses to use their cards to pay for goods and services.  

Next steps 

We are seeking feedback on the proposed remedies and also invite industry to develop and submit detailed specifications for the potential remedies discussed, as well as any alternative suggestions. We will consider the responses to this initial consultation before deciding whether these remedies are the best way to address the features of concern, or if other intervention is needed. 

We plan to issue a provisional decision and draft remedies notice, and a final remedies notice later this year. Consultation submissions can be sent to cards@psr.org.uk. The close date is 6 April 2022.

Supplementary Files

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