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The British Retail Consortium calls for Action on Card Fees

Categories : Cash is efficient, Costs of cash versus costs of electronic payment instruments
November 18, 2019
Published in : Cash substitution, Financial inclusion, Retailers, UK
The British Retail Consortium has published its latest Payment Survey which shows that credit card spending overtook cash spending in 2018. Debit cards remain the most popular method of payment, accounting for almost three-in-five transactions.
Guillaume Lepecq

According to the British Retail Consortium’s (BRC) latest payment survey, the share of cash payments has been falling steadily. Over the past five years, cash has dropped from over half of all transactions in 2013 to under 40% in 2018. The value of those cash transactions has fallen from 28% to 20% during the same period.

Nonetheless, cash remains an important part of retail, particularly for many vulnerable people, and the BRC is working to ensure the long-term viability of ATMs and reduce barriers that prevent many businesses from offering cashback to customers.

“With card payments accounting for almost 80% of retail sales, it is vital that the Government takes action to tackle the soaring costs that card companies charge retailers. Without action we will see businesses put under further pressure and it will be consumers who are forced to pay the price.”

Andrew Cregan, Policy Advisor Payments and Consumer Credit

Card costs continue to rise as retailers spent £1.3 billion with third parties, up £70 million from 2017.  Each transaction cost retailers an average of 5.85 pence per transaction, up 17% (from 4.98 pence). These additional costs are largely driven by the fees paid by businesses to credit and debit card companies, that increased by over 50% in 2018. The BRC are calling for action to improve regulation of card payment fees, expanding and simplifying the regulation to cover the full range of transactions and prevent abuse by card companies.

The unit cost of debit cards is 2.8 times larger than the cost of cash globally.

According to a recent study by economists Santiago Carbo Valverde and Francisco Rodriguez-Fernandez analysing the cost of cash compared to debit cards across 52 countries, the unit cost of debit cards is 2.8 times larger than the cost of cash globally.

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