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MasterCard-commissioned survey finds Europeans concerned about interchange fee caps

14 February 2014  |  2600 views  |  1 Source: MasterCard

European consumers are concerned that draft EU legislation currently under discussion would make paying with cards more expensive and more complicated. According to a recent poll in 13 European countries, 2 in 3 consumers believe that proposals to cap interchange fees would make it worse for them to use their bank cards and 8 in 10 people do not expect retailers to pass on any cost savings through lower prices.

The survey carried out by IPSOS on behalf of MasterCard, looked at consumer views on European Commission proposals to set caps on interchange fees (retailers contribution to the electronic payments systems) and introduce a series of measures that would impact the use of payment cards.

"Any new legislation on electronic payments should act in the best interest of card users.We commissioned this survey because of growing concerns that forcing down interchange fees artificially would drive up the cost of cards and prevent all market players from playing by the same rules. The results suggest that consumers across Europe share these concerns, and believe that the measures on the table are not in their interest," said Javier Perez, President, MasterCard Europe.

According to the results of the survey, 65% of consumers fear that inflexible caps on interchange fees would leave them worse off in terms of using cards. An even higher number (82%) believe that retailers would not pass on any cost savings from a reduction in their contribution to the costs of the electronic payments system.

MasterCard has consistently expressed its concern that the proposed caps would drive the cost of cards up for consumers. This concern is based on recent practical experience from countries like Spain, where legislation to cap interchange fees resulted in cardholder fees increasing by over 50% and no evidence of retailers passing on savings through lower prices. It also stems from the absence of any justification for fixing the same fees across over 30 countries where market conditions vary considerably.

"It is unclear how the "one-size-fits-all" approach to capping cross-border and domestic interchange fees at apparently arbitrary levels can be justified. This is not a theoretical concern - it is based on evidence of what happened in countries like Spain when interchange was forced down artificially, and consumers were the ones who footed the bill." cocontinued Mr. Perez.

The survey also indicates that consumers are especially critical of a proposed rule that would give retailers the right to decide which specific cards they will or will not accept. Breaking up the so-called "Honour All Cards Rule" would deprive consumers of the number one quality they look for in payment cards - the certainty they can use it wherever they go around the world. 8 in 10 consumers (77%) across Europe felt this measure would make using bank cards worse for them. Similarly, 60% are concerned that proposals to allow for multiple logos on the same card would have negative impact on consumers.

Mr. Perez concluded, "At MasterCard, we share the European Commission's objective of creating an efficient, competitive and innovative payments market. However, we are concerned that some of the proposals, do not support these goals and will actually harm and inconvenience consumers." 

Comments: (1)

Jim Wells
Jim Wells - Wellspring Consulting International - Fort Lauderdale | 17 February, 2014, 14:11

What colossal hubris.  MasterCard releasing a study of consumer views on interchange fees is like Dracula releasing a study on people's views on vampires.  Jim Wells

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