• New rules could help businesses switch and save thousands of pounds a year  

  • Providers will be more transparent and remind businesses when their contracts are due to expire 

  • Contracts for card readers will no longer operate for more than 18 months 

Today the PSR has published its final decision confirming the changes it is making to improve card services and choice for businesses.  

Every time somebody buys something using a credit or debit card, businesses like newsagents and supermarkets, use card-acquiring services to accept the payment. The prices businesses pay for these services can be passed onto their customers. 

The PSR wanted to make sure that businesses were getting value for money on card services and carried out a market review which found that these services weren’t working well for businesses with annual turnover below £50 million. Some of the reasons for this included finding it difficult to compare prices and services, and being locked into lengthy contracts for card readers. 

In January this year, the PSR consulted on a package of remedies to help businesses, and therefore also consumers, get the best deal possible; the PSR published a provisional decision on these remedies in June.  

Today the regulator is giving Specific Directions to 14 of the most significant providers of card-acquiring services to make sure businesses are protected and get the best services available by shopping around or negotiating, potentially saving them up to £5,400 per year in fees.1 The Directions will make sure these firms: 

  • Provide trigger messages to businesses reminding them at the end of their contract term that they could get a better deal if they shopped around. 
  • Provide summary information boxes of the card fees businesses are charged and provide an initial online quotation tool of key charges to help them make informed choices. 
  • Allow businesses to switch card acquiring providers easily by requiring that Point of Sale (POS) terminal contracts do not run for more than 18 months. 

Kate Fitzgerald, Interim Head of Policy at the PSR, said:  

“Card-acquiring services play a crucial role in the payments sector – from the businesses that use them to accept payments, to the consumers using them to pay – so it’s important they work well for everyone.  

“We believe that businesses could be saving up to thousands of pounds a year if it was simpler for them to compare prices and switch providers. The steps we’re taking today will make it easier for the 1.5 million small and medium sized businesses in the UK to do this, benefiting both them and their customers.”  

What happens next? 

The 14 directed firms are required to implement the remedy around POS terminal contracts from January 2023, and the two remedies around trigger messages and summary boxes from July 2023.  

The PSR will monitor the firms’ compliance with the Directions and the impact of the remedies to determine whether any further action is required. 

Notes to editors:  

  1. The National Federation of Retail Newsagents estimated that where its members switched acquirers, they saved between £100 and £450 per month on the cost of card acceptance services. This means businesses could potentially save up to £5,400 a year.