(Sept. 22/16) The federal government is listening to concerns expressed by Restaurants Canada and other business groups, and says it will review Visa and MasterCard’s voluntary commitment to reduce fees.

The government acknowledges that independent audits show both companies met these commitments, but will further study the marketplace. We’re pleased this review will include foreign approaches, as Canada’s interchange fees are up to five times higher than those of countries with caps on fees.

Closer to a cap on interchange fees?
This announcement by the Minister of Finance could also strengthen MP Linda Lapointe’s Bill C-263 that calls for a cap on interchange fees, the bank fee set by credit card companies for accepting credit cards (the largest component of credit card acceptance fees). We have met twice with Ms. Lapointe to support her bill, and will continue to provide our industry’s perspective and backing.

The high cost of accepting credit card payment has long been an irritant for foodservice operators, especially with the rise in premium cards. The cost of the consumer perks that come with these cards is passed along to business owners through higher merchant fees. In many cases, when the merchant fee is added to a restaurant bill plus tax and tip, the credit card fee can exceed the profit earned by the restaurant.

Restaurants Canada and other business groups have won improvements, such as the government negotiating a 10 per cent reduction in Visa and MasterCard interchange fees after eight years of relentless increases, as well as Code of Conduct rules that bring in more choice and transparency for merchants.

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