Credit Cards: Coronavirus

Treasury written question – answered on 3rd September 2020.

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Photo of Liz Saville-Roberts Liz Saville-Roberts Shadow PC Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Women and Equalities) , Plaid Cymru Westminster Leader, Shadow PC Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Transport), Shadow PC Spokesperson (Attorney General)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, what assessment he has made of the effect of credit card processing fees on small businesses and charities since the discouragement of cash payments during the covid-19 outbreak; and what steps he is taking to ensure businesses are not negatively affected by the increase in credit card payments.

Photo of John Glen John Glen Minister of State (Treasury) (City), The Economic Secretary to the Treasury

The Government remains committed to helping businesses and workers through the present very difficult time, and has announced unprecedented support, including a range of grant and tax deferral schemes, and £300 billion of guarantees, equivalent to 15 per cent of UK GDP. For voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations, the government has pledged £750 million to ensure they can continue their vital work supporting the country during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Government remains closely engaged with the financial regulators to monitor and assess risks around cash relating to COVID-19. In order to help control the virus, all businesses and individuals have been encouraged to follow the latest Government advice. To work safely during Coronavirus, retailers have been recommended to minimise contact around transactions, for example, considering using contactless payments. However, it remains the individual retailer’s choice as to whether to accept or decline any form of payment, including cash or card.

Some acquirers (the financial services firms which enable retailers to process card payments) are taking voluntary measures to support their business customers, for example through waiving fees, and the Government welcomes such action.

Furthermore, the Payment Systems Regulator is currently carrying out a market review into card-acquiring services. Its review is examining how competition is working, including looking at the fees retailers pay for card-acquiring services and the quality of service they receive. The interim findings will be published in Q3 2020.

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