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Dickson and Muir Voice Regret at Increased Fees for EU Card Transactions

East Antrim Alliance MLA, Stewart Dickson, alongside North Down Alliance MLA, Andrew Muir, today supported a motion calling on the Assembly to voice its regret at the decision of Visa and MasterCard to increase their fees for EU card transactions. The motion intimated that the increase of fees is a direct cause of Brexit and the resultant loss in EU consumer protections.

The Alliance Party MLA’s have been leading calls for practical solutions to Brexit-made problems for months, and in supporting this motion, proposed an important amendment. Namely, to call on the UK Government to reinstate the previous cap on interchange fees within its regulatory authority, and to engage with the European Union to reach an agreement on interchange fee caps on UK-EU and EU-UK card transactions as part of wider efforts to ease the trading frictions caused by Brexit.

Speaking in the Chamber, Mr Dickson said: “The Interchange Fee Regulation, introduced in 2015, meant that across the European Economic Area a standardised cap existed on fees for cross border transactions. These fees were calculated on a proportion of the total amount of the transaction, and the payment method; 0.2% for debit cards, 0.3% for credit cards.

Of course, after the UK Government’s decision to pursue the hardest Brexit possible, and leave the Single Market, those protections have been rolled back.”

Mr Dickson went on to detail how Visa and Mastercard, post-transition period, announced their intentions to increase fees levied on online EEA purchases by UK debit cards by more than 400%, and 500% on credit cards.

Expressing his disappointment at the move, Mr Dickson said: “This announcement comes during one of the most disruptive and painful years that many businesses and consumers have ever faced. They are looking towards reopening and recovery, and these additional costs are the last thing they need.

These painful charges are made even more acute as there are few alternatives to what is essentially a duopoly, with Visa and Mastercard controlling more or less the entire debit and credit card market in the UK.”

To protect UK consumers from these unfair and unwarranted price rises, and indeed the danger of further rises, the Alliance Party supported the call for the UK Government to act.

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