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June 23, 2022

PSR card fees review launches: this one will run and run

The UK payments regulator has kicked off two market reviews examining card fees-expect little to result for the foreseeable

By Douglas Blakey

The UK’s Payments Systems Regulator (PSR) yesterday announced plans to carry out two market reviews focusing on card fees – one on scheme and processing fees, and the other on cross-border interchange fees. The reviews focus naturally on Mastercard and Visa. The regulator had little choice to act, after his appearance before the Treasury Select Committee.

In October 2021, Mastercard and Visa announced increases on cross-border interchange fees between the UK and EU for debit and credit card transactions, from 0.2% to 0.3% and 1.15% to 1.5% respectively. The MPs were so outraged that eight months later, they call in the regulator for the evidence session.

One can just about the script now with papers called for, evidence sessions fixed, outrage from aggrieved MPs-the anti Brexit brigade will have a field day, arguing that merchants and consumers are over-paying as a result of Brexit. Ignoring the fact, conveniently, that the EU has had little success in clipping the wings of Visa and Mastercard. The regulator is quoted as saying that not a lot may happen for at least four years. On past form, that might even be an optimistic forecast.

Following the much-forecast news that the UK government intends to ramp up regulation of the BNPL sector – my article here notes the current beleaguered state of some of the main players current share price collapses – I will ration my observations to just one. Saturation and the need for consolidation, sharply captured in a press release that hits mu inbox this morning from Optty.

This is an outfit that brings together the world’s BNPL providers in one simple and rapid integration. Retailers can connect using their preferred e-commerce platform, integrate once and switch on the BNPL and next gen payment providers of their choice in minutes. The platform currently has 200 global integrations with 45 BNPL solutions including Afterpay, Affirm, Klarna, Scalapay, Pace, and Zip. Forty-five and counting-not a misprint. Very few of the 45 will ever make come close to turning a profit-consolidation of a sector has rarely been more essential.

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