The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has called on the Government and regulators to act to protect choice within the UK’s payment networks and support retailers to manage escalating payments costs.
The Treasury’s call for evidence, Payments Landscape Review, forms the first stage of a review into the payments landscape. In its submission, ACS highlighted the vital role that local shops play in ensuring financial inclusion in communities across the UK.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “Local shops have continued to invest in their stores in order to provide customers with the freedom to use a range of different payment methods. The costs of accepting payments however are increasing rapidly, which could make it more difficult for retailers to continue diversifying their payments options. The Government should encourage the Payment Systems Regulator to enact proposed measures to help retailers compare and switch card payment providers and ensure a restored national network supplying access to cash for both consumers and businesses.”
The Payment Systems Regulator is running a separate market review into card acquiring services. Its interim report has proposed:
- requiring retailer contracts with acquirers to have an end date to prompt comparisons within the market;
- banning automatic renewals;
- reducing exit fees for hardware contracts to accept card payments; and
- making it easier for retailers to research and compare prices via price comparison platforms.
Findings from the 2020 ACS Local Shop Report show that around half of convenience stores (49%) offer free to use cash machines, 88% offer contactless payments and 80% offer mobile payments, as retailers continue to invest in digital payment options to meet changing consumer preferences.