The Commonwealth Bank of Australia has called for the introduction of zero interchange fees on Eftpos transactions. The proposals, submitted to a working group looking at reform of debit card charges, have been welcomed by rival bank ANZ but rejected by the Australian Retailers' Association.
In its submission to the Eftpos Industry Working Group, the CBA - which runs Australia's largest Eftpos network - argues that reform of the system will ensure continued ease of access at a reasonable cost. In addition, the bank has called for the establishment of a framework to fund future infrastructure development costs, such as the introduction of chip at the point-of-sale and other fraud prevention measures.
The move has been slammed by retailers, which claim that the banks are trying to recoup profits lost through the recent Reserve Bank-mandated custs in credit card charges. The retailers' lobby claims the Working Group is dominated by banking industry interests and has called on the central bank to act.
Nick Kennett, CBA's executive general manager retail customer services, agrees that the proposals can be viewed as complementary to recently announced changes to credit card schemes. But he refutes the retailers' claims of profiteering, arguing that the changes would lead to improved transparency of prices charged to consumers and businesses.
He adds: "In order to minimise the number of changes for consumers and businesses, we would like to see these changes introduced concurrently with the changes to credit cards in October 2003."