Payment Systems Regulator Confirms Review into Card Payments Market

The Payment Systems Regulator has today (January 24th) confirmed the terms of reference for its Market Review into card payments, investigating whether retailers are being fairly treated by acquirers and payment facilitators such as WorldPay and Barclaycard.

In the Terms of Reference, the PSR cites concerns raised by stakeholders, including ACS, about the market not being fair. These include:

  • Acquirers not passing on to smaller merchants (retailers) the savings they made from interchange fee caps
  • A lack of transparency around the fees merchants pay to accept card payments
  • Barriers that make it hard for merchants to compare and switch acquirers
  • A significant increase in the scheme fee portion of the fees that merchants pay to acquirers

Figures from the ACS Voice of Local Shops Survey show that more than half (59%) of convenience retailers have seen an increase in the cost of processing card payments since 2016, with almost one in three (32%) reporting that the costs have increased significantly.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “The vast majority of retailers in the convenience sector accept card payments, but the costs of accepting those payments is increasing which will ultimately be harmful to consumers, with the only beneficiaries being the big card schemes boosting their profits. We welcome the Payment Systems Regulator’s review into the card payments market, and will be gathering evidence from members to inform the review.”

The 2018 Local Shop Report shows that 94% of convenience stores accept debit card payments, with 88% accepting credit cards. 80% of stores offer additional payment technology such as contactless payment.

ACS has previously called on the Payment Systems Regulator to look closely at the card payments market to ensure that it is operating fairly and does not unfairly target smaller businesses.

The PSR will be gathering evidence throughout 2019, with a view to publishing an interim report before the end of the year. The full details of the Market Review are available here

If you have experienced a significant increase in the cost of processing card payments or any other issues with the card payments system, please get in touch with ACS Public Affairs Manager Steve Dowling at

This entry was posted by Chris on Thu, 24/01/2019 - 12:27