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Study points out potential advantages of debit card reform for merchants
June 29, 2012 - 5:43pm
Credit cards and debit cards are used by a vast majority of consumers, and as such the majority of businesses are all but obliged to offer them as a payment processing method. However, for smaller retail merchants, such as convenience stores, drugstores, gas stations and similar establishments, heavy card use will lead to significant costs in the form of fees levied by the cards' providers.
Fees have recently been falling as of late in some countries, such as the United States, where reform legislation such as the Durbin Amendment to the Dodd-Frank financial laws took effect in late 2011. According to the findings of a recent study by Moody's Investors Services, the savings resulting from this reform may allow retailers to keep prices down for customers.
"Debit card use is heaviest at supermarkets, drugstores, discount retailers, convenience stores and gas stations, which generally early a very low operating margin," the report states. "All face rising transportation costs due to higher gas prices and increasing labor costs. In addition, supermarkets face rising food commodity costs and drug stores face pressures on prescription reimbursement rates."
Despite all of this, if transaction processing fees are lower, the merchants facing problems such as those mentioned above may be more able to avoid rising prices on goods, which will allow them to maintain their customer base and bring in reasonable revenue.
The findings of the report are being heralded by advocacy groups such as the Merchant Payments Coalition. Comprised of retailers from approximately 2.7 million stores, who are significantly impacted by card processing fees, the organization campaigns against unfair charges in the interest of its members. Mallory Duncan, the Coalition's chairperson, spoke positively of the study.
"Here is more evidence that reforming the card market by making it competitive and transparent helps consumers," Duncan said in a recent statement.
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