The Payment Systems Regulator says merchants may have to wait a further two years before it concludes its market reviews into Mastercard and Visa card fees.
The watchdog has kicked off two market reviews into card fees and post-Brexit interchange charges levied by the card schemes on UK merchants.
An earlier inquiry into card-acquiring services identified that scheme and processing fees had increased significantly between 2014 and 2018. The regulator is now going further by looking in detail at the levels, structure and types of scheme and processing fees.
The PSR says it expects to publish a report setting out its interim conclusions on card scheme and processing fees in quarter four of 2023 and a final report which would include any proposed remedies in quarter two of 2024.
On the 'fivefold' rise on consumer cross-border interchange fees between the UK and the EU, the watchdog says it will publish an interim conclusion in Q3 2023 and its final report in the fourth quarter.
Chris Hemsley, managing director at the PSR states: “Cards are the most popular way for people to make payments in the UK, but the concerns we have heard indicate that businesses could be paying over the odds by the fees imposed by Visa and Mastercard.
“We are moving as quickly as we can, but this is a complex issue to assess fully, and we want to make sure we take the right course of action - especially as it affects millions of businesses in the UK.”
The plodding timetable will be a blow to merchant trade bodies, who have been complaining for the past four years about spiraling fees and ineffective competition in the card acquiring market.