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More inWhite Papers  

a credit card being used in pharmacyJanuary 17 2018

Businesses may no longer charge customers a fee to cover costs incurred for using a credit card or debit card. New regulations came into effect on January 13, implementing the revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2), part of EU legislation.

The Federation of Small Businesses has warned that the legislation may adversely affect small businesses. FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry, said: “The proportion of small firms reporting a rise in operating costs is now at a five-year high. Removing their freedom to share the burden of card payment fees will give them yet another outgoing to worry about.

“The interchange fees demanded by card companies are only the start of the costs that small firms incur when they process a card payment. They also have to foot the bill for compliance, set-up, authorisation fees and payment system operating costs. The EU does cap interchange fees, but these caps don’t apply across the board. Card providers with a small market share are free to charge considerably more than their bigger competitors.”

PSNC has advised that, in practice, “this means that pharmacy businesses will not be allowed to add a surcharge or fee, when customers purchase goods or pay the NHS prescription charge using, for example, a personal credit card. This is despite the additional cost to the pharmacy when accepting such payment methods.

“Contractors will no longer be able to pass on the cost of such credit cards to the customer by way of a surcharge or fee. But, contractors may decide to incorporate such costs into the price of the goods (if appropriate), or decline to accept personal credit cards if they are too costly for the pharmacy to accept.”

HM Revenue and Customs announced in December that the legislation meant it would no longer accept personal credit card payments from January 13. “Corporate, business and commercial cards aren’t affected by this change. However, customers will have to pay the credit card fee in addition to any tax paid,” it said.

Mr Cherry has criticised HMRC for adopting this approach. “It’s hypocritical of HMRC to stop accepting personal credit card payments, as they consider them too expensive to process, while small firms are expected to absorb those same costs. Small businesses don’t want to pass on card fees to their customers, so it’s high time for policymakers and businesses to work together to bring down the charges levied by card providers,” he said.

PSD2 has also introduced the concept of ‘open banking’. This will mean individuals or businesses can give third-parties, including finance providers, accountants and price comparison sites, access to their current account transaction details.

“Open banking promises to help transform accounting processes for small firms. For the VAT-registered small business submitting quarterly returns online, for example, being able to seamlessly transfer transaction details to accounting software could be a game-changer,” said Mr Cherry.

“Of course, businesses need to put security first. Small firms need to give careful consideration to the organisations they’d like to grant access to and ensure those third parties have the relevant approvals from the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority].”

Links:
FSB statement   
PSNC advice        
HMRC announcement    
FCA guidance on PSD2   

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