A group of leading retail industry associations have launched an online petition urging the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) to take urgent action on debit card merchant fees.

The campaign has two aims; for RBA to mandate least cost routing (LCR) for all contactless debit transactions and for Eftpos or another low-cost option to be available as a choice on all debit cards. The petition has already garnered significant industry support, and at time of publishing had reached 11,606 of its target of 15,000 signatures.

AACS CEO Theo Foukkare has worked collaboratively with 12 other peak industry bodies, the Federal Government, various ministers, and with the AACS membership audiences and online to raise awareness of the challenges small businesses are facing in relation to transaction fees.

He says that small businesses now more than ever need any break that they can get to save money and ensure their survival.

“In most cases, merchant fees on statements are so difficult to understand that they just get put to the side by retailers as they focus on running their store(s),” he told C&I.

“On average, a service station or convenience store that was hooked into the LCR lane can save over $12,500 per annum – that is straight from the Banks bottom line to theirs.

“Additionally, retailers on LCR for debit transactions probably don’t even know that currently if a consumer taps their mobile wallet vs an actual bank issued card to pay, that their fees are different and up to 10 times more expensive – costing them every time someone taps their phone or watch.

“We strongly believe that LCR should be activated on all platforms – card, mobile wallet and online – so that small businesses can keep their bank fees as low as possible, which ultimately keeps prices down and they are more competitive.

“It’s about time that the Reserve Bank as the payments regulator put in place strong regulation to ensure that the Big 4 banks don’t continue to make activating LCR difficult to understand and implement. Their current review provides them with the perfect opportunity to do this.

“If the RBA chooses not to do this, we will continue to apply pressure to the Federal Government to drive regulation in the payments system.”

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