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Visa, Mastercard and American Express Lower Interchange Fees in Canada

Friday, August 10, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Terri Brustad

New Agreements to Deliver Lower Credit Card Costs for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses

August 9, 2018 – Ottawa, Ontario – Department of Finance Canada

Today, Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced that the Government has helped secure new, separate and voluntary commitments from three payment card networks that will lead to lower costs for small and medium-sized businesses. With lower interchange fees, businesses will be able to save money that they can use to invest, grow, and create more jobs—an important part of strengthening and growing the middle class.

These commitments from Visa, Mastercard, and American Express will make credit card acceptance fairer for small and medium-sized enterprises, which have less bargaining power than larger merchants to negotiate lower rates. The commitments will also help to maintain the card benefits—such as reward programs—that are important to Canadian consumers.

New Voluntary Commitments

As part of their new commitments, Visa and Mastercard will: (1) reduce domestic consumer interchange fees to an annual average effective rate of 1.40 per cent for a period of five years; (2) narrow the range of interchange rates (lowest vs. highest fee) charged to businesses; (3) require annual verification by an independent third party.

The Finance Minister also welcomed a separate voluntary commitment from American Express that will support the Government’s objectives of greater fairness and transparency in the Canadian credit card market. This commitment recognizes the fact that American Express operates a unique business model with fees other than interchange fees.

Estimated Savings for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses

The reduction in interchange fees is expected to save small and medium-sized businesses in Canada $250 million per year, based on credit card sales of roughly $250 billion per year.

For a medium-sized business with credit sales of $5 million per year, a 10 basis point reduction in interchange fees—equivalent to the reduction announced today—could allow for savings of up to $25,000 over five years.

For smaller businesses with credit sales of $1 million per year, a 15 basis point reduction in interchange fees could allow for savings of up to $7,500 over five years. Due to the narrowing in the range of interchange fees, it is expected that small businesses will receive a greater reduction in interchange fees than large businesses, under the new agreements.

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