Payment Systems Regulator outlines card-acquiring market remedies
The UK’s Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) has directed 14 card-acquiring providers to ensure that smaller firms are able to shop around and negotiate for better prices and services, potentially saving them thousands of pounds a year.
Focusing on 14 providers, which include heavyweights such as Barclays, Lloyds, PayPal, Square, Stripe and Worldpay, “will mean that around 95% of transactions for the merchants our remedies will protect will be regulated”, the PSR says.
There are around 157 million cards issued in the UK and 65% of all payments made by consumers in 2021 were made using credit or debit cards, according to UK Finance.
PSR’s interim head of policy Kate Fitzgerald says: “The steps we’re taking today will make it easier for the 1.5 million small and medium sized businesses in the UK to compare prices and switch providers, benefiting both them and their customers.”
In a market review, the PSR found that businesses with an annual turnover below £50 million weren’t always getting a fair shake when it comes to card-acquiring services, with some firms finding it difficult to compare prices and services or being locked into lengthy contracts for card readers.
Among the Specific Directions outlined this week, which could save firms up to £5,400 on fees a year, are limiting Point of Sale (POS) terminal contracts to 18 months, mandating that providers outline fees up front and offer an online quotation tool to allow firms to make more informed decisions.
Providers must also begin to incorporate trigger messages that remind businesses their POS contract is nearing the end of its term and that they could get a better deal if they shopped around.
The 14 firms have three months to implement the POS terminal contractual remedy, from January 2023, where applicable, and nine months from July 2023 to implement the disclosure remedies.
The PSR says it will monitor firms’ compliance and the impact of the remedies to determine whether any further action is required.