Interchange fees for retailers accepting credit and debit cards will be capped from today
Consumer rights groups are calling on retailers to pass on the savings made by a government cap on credit and debit card charges to cash strapped consumers in the run-up to Christmas.
From today, the interchange fees banks charge retailers for accepting debit and credit cards will be capped, resulting in savings of more than €36m a year for retailers.
Under the new rules, the maximum fee for domestic debit card transactions is to be set at a weighted average of 0.10% of the transaction value, half the current level.
Meanwhile the maximum for domestic credit card transactions is to be set at 0.30% in line with the Interchange Fee Regulation.
Consumer Association of Ireland policy chief, Dermot Jewell, said: "The reality and the expectation from the minister for finance is that these savings should be passed onto the consumer and if it is a case that they do not then it needs to be addressed by the Minister of Finance in terms of the validity of the decision".
"Certainly the Consumers Association of Ireland would see no reason why it should not be passed back".
Interchange fees are charged by a card holder's bank to a retailer for both debit and credit card transactions.
The fee does not impact consumers directly - however some retailers used the fee as justification for higher prices or refusing to accept card payments under a certain threshold.
Finance Minister Michael Noonan has claimed that the fee cap will result in significant savings for the country's businesses.
He said: "The reduction in fees will significantly reduce the cost to ordinary retailers of accepting card payments".
“Ireland has now got among the lowest rates of debit card interchange in Europe following this reform, which will help to make Ireland one of the most card-friendly countries in Europe".
"We now want to see consumers benefit from these changes, if they choose debit cards as their preferred method of payment. We are all familiar with outlets who will not accept card payments under €10 or in some cases €5. In response to the benefits I announced on Budget Day, I am now calling on retailers to remove this minimum spend".