Credit card surcharges and non transparent transaction fees. A study. July Commonwealth Consumer Affairs Advisory Council

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1 Credit card surcharges and non transparent transaction fees A study July 2013 Commonwealth Consumer Affairs Advisory Council

2 Commonwealth of Australia 2013 ISBN This publication is available for your use under a Creative Commons BY Attribution 3.0 Australia licence, with the exception of the Commonwealth Coat of Arms, the Treasury logo, photographs, images, signatures and where otherwise stated The full licence terms are available from Use of Treasury material under a Creative Commons BY Attribution 3.0 Australia licence requires you to attribute the work (but not in any way that suggests that the Treasury endorses you or your use of the work). Treasury material used as supplied. Provided you have not modified or transformed Treasury material in any way including, for example, by changing the Treasury text; calculating percentage changes; graphing or charting data; or deriving new statistics from published Treasury statistics then Treasury prefers the following attribution: Source: The Australian Government the Treasury. Derivative material If you have modified or transformed Treasury material, or derived new material from those of the Treasury in any way, then Treasury prefers the following attribution: Based on The Australian Government the Treasury data. Use of the Coat of Arms The terms under which the Coat of Arms can be used are set out on the It s an Honour website (see Other Uses Inquiries regarding this licence and any other use of this document are welcome at: Manager Communications The Treasury Langton Crescent Parkes ACT

3 Mr Colin Neave AM Chair of CCAAC 25 July 2013 Dear Minister for Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs, The Commonwealth Consumer Affairs Advisory Council (CCAAC) is pleased to enclose the study undertaken into credit card surcharges and non-transparent transaction fees. Credit card surcharges that reflect the reasonable costs of card acceptance are generally beneficial to consumers as they support wider acceptance of payment options that are convenient for Australian consumers while facilitating efficient outcomes within the payments system. CCAAC notes that since the removal of the no-surcharging rules in 2003, there has been a significant reduction in the service fees applied to merchants upon a consumer s use of their credit card. CCAAC welcomes the recent changes to the Surcharging Standards made under the Payment Systems (Regulation) Act These changes allow card schemes to limit surcharges to the reasonable costs of card acceptance. It is CCAAC s expectation that this approach is likely to provide consumers with appropriate protection from excessive surcharging in most circumstances. Nonetheless, this study finds that surcharges and fees can lead to consumer detriment resulting from the misleading nature of a surcharge or fee as well as increased search and information costs for consumers. In addition, CCAAC has found that consumers are concerned about the surcharging practices of businesses operating online, particularly in those industries where competition is limited. In accordance with the study s terms of reference, CCAAC has identified a range of better practice principles to improve the transparency of surcharges and fees. When applying surcharges and fees, CCAAC considers that businesses should: adopt simpler pricing methods; improve the practicality of surcharge and fee-free options; avoid use of minimum pricing; improve the clarity of prices with clear, prominent and timely disclosure; and ensure that surcharges and fees are accurately described, including by avoiding terms that are ambiguous to consumers. With regard to preventing excessive surcharging, CCAAC is of the view that enforcement of the current card scheme rules may be difficult in some of the more egregious examples that have been brought to CCAAC s attention. In many cases, the actual costs incurred by merchants are not observable by the card schemes. Further, the nature of scheme merchant agreements provides a disincentive for card schemes to impose penalties against merchants who are their own customers. The Treasury PARKES ACT 2600 CCAAC Secretariat Consumer Policy Framework Unit Telephone: Facsimile: Page iii

4 Accordingly, CCAAC considers that there may be scope to improve the card schemes ability to enforce their card scheme rules by providing greater objectivity and transparency over what may constitute the reasonable costs of card acceptance. However, CCAAC does not advocate any amendment to the Standards or to the RBA s Guidance Note. The current regime is the result of extensive consideration by the RBA, and it would be premature at this stage to recommend amendments. It is noted that the RBA will undertake ongoing monitoring of the impact of the amended Standards, and is the best placed body to do so. In addition to these findings, CCAAC is of the view that there may be a role for public enforcement action where card scheme rules and their enforcement mechanisms are insufficient to restrict surcharges and fees that are applied in a manner that causes consumer harm. CCAAC considers that further consultation would be beneficial to support policymakers in determining the need for additional or amended consumer laws to facilitate public enforcement action. Policy makers may also wish to consider how the Australian Consumer Law (Schedule 2 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010) could ensure that consumers are provided with clear and transparent pricing information or whether a specific policy response is required for surcharges applied to transactions that are processed online. Given that recent changes to the Surcharging Standards came into effect on 18 March 2013, policymakers may wish to allow an appropriate period of time to pass, in order to assess the need for further action. I offer my thanks to and acknowledge the expertise and commitment of the CCAAC members in undertaking this study. Work on this inquiry was led by Ms Carolyn Bond AO, with support and contributions from other colleagues. I also thank those who provided submissions to CCAAC as well as those who met with CCAAC throughout the consultation period. Yours sincerely Colin Neave Chairman, Commonwealth Consumer Affairs Advisory Council. Page iv

5 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The Assistant Treasurer, the Hon David Bradbury MP, has requested CCAAC to undertake a study into the experiences of Australian consumers when they encounter credit card surcharges and transaction fees. This study examines credit and debit card surcharges (card surcharges) and transaction fees through a consumer policy lens. Australia s consumer protection framework provides Australian consumers with a set of basic rights and responsibilities to allow them to engage confidently within the marketplace, and to support them in making their own purchasing decisions. In essence, consumer policies are intended to ensure that consumers get what they pay for. This study is distinguished from earlier review processes through its focus on the consumer impacts of surcharges and transaction fees, including the manner in which they are applied, and whether there are any implications for consumer policy settings. We note, however, that consumers ability to benefit from, and activate, competition is a key contributor to efficient markets and is necessary to obtain the full benefits of the reasonable cost surcharging reforms. The study provides an opportunity to consider how the consumer policy framework can support broader efficiency considerations, including by enabling consumers to benefit from competition. CCAAC has undertaken this study in light of recent amendments to the Surcharging Standards (the Standards), made under the Payment Systems (Regulation) Act 1998 (Regulation Act), that allow card scheme rules to limit surcharges to the reasonable cost of card acceptance. The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has specific responsibilities under the Regulation Act. The RBA s Guidance Note identifies the reasonable costs associated with card acceptance as including: merchant service fees; other costs payable to acquirers; costs payable to other payment service providers; merchants own costs related to card acceptance; fraud costs related to card acceptance; and any fixed equipment, systems or development costs not captured in the above. The removal of the no-surcharge rules has allowed merchants to pass on the cost of credit and scheme debit card transactions to their customers via a surcharge. The purpose of this reform was to improve the efficiency of the payments system by improving price signals to cardholders about the relative costs of different payment methods. While the average fees paid by merchants to their acquirers or the credit and debit card schemes (card schemes) have been in decline since removal of no-surcharge rules, consumer organisations and participants in card schemes have expressed concern about the enforcement of card scheme rules that limit credit card surcharges. During consultations, card scheme participants raised a number of difficulties they face in enforcing the surcharging limits allowed under the current Standards. Chief among these is their inability to monitor many of the merchant costs outlined in the RBA Guidance Note. This lack of transparency may make it difficult for card schemes or their participants to form a view on the acceptable level of surcharges. A further difficulty for the card schemes may be the limited incentive for acquirers to take action against merchants. While penalties for excessive surcharging can be built into contractual arrangements with merchants, the Page v

6 Credit card surcharges and non-transparent transaction fees A study commercial nature of the relationship appears to create a disincentive to card scheme participants imposing penalties against merchants who are in fact their own customers. In addition to card scheme rules, consumers are provided with a safety net of consumer rights that are based on generic principles that apply across all industries, businesses and to all consumers. These rights are provided for through the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) 1 and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act 2001 (ASIC Act). Specific protections applying to merchants applying surcharges and fees include: the prohibition of misleading or deceptive conduct, the prohibition of false or misleading representations, and the obligation for businesses to display the minimum quantifiable price when making a price representation about part of the price that must be paid (through the component pricing provision). These protections do not resolve all of the concerns raised by consumers. For example, consumer laws do not generally prevent businesses from applying surcharges or fees, even where they appear excessive, in circumstances where they are unlikely to mislead consumers. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is the independent statutory agency responsible for enforcing the ACL and for the administration of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (CCA). The ACCC s powers and functions in enforcing the ACL include the power to investigate possible breaches and, where appropriate, bring proceedings against those alleged to have breached the ACL. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is the independent statutory authority with specific responsibility for enforcing the ASIC Act. The ASIC s powers and functions include the power to investigate suspected breaches of the law, and where appropriate, issue infringement notices, commence prosecutions, or seek civil penalties from the courts in relation to alleged breaches of some laws. Internationally, some jurisdictions provide specific restrictions on surcharging through consumer laws. In some jurisdictions this takes the form of a ban on surcharging, and in others, surcharges are limited to the costs of card acceptance. CCAAC notes that consumers have singled out the surcharges and fees applied by airlines as evident in a Survey conducted by CCAAC on its website (the Survey) (see Appendix 1 for a summary of results). The Survey s respondents overwhelmingly identified airlines as applying the highest surcharges and transaction fees. Surcharging in the online environment also appeared to be the subject of considerable consumer dissatisfaction. There are a range of consequences associated with the application of surcharges and fees. CCAAC identifies that surcharges and fees can lead to increased transaction costs for consumers and consumer detriment resulting from the misleading nature of a surcharge or fee. Consumers have raised a number of other frustrations relating to the imposition of surcharges or fees, including the actual costs associated with paying the amount of the surcharge or fee and the lack of fairness associated with surcharges and fees that cross-subsidise other business activities. 1 Schedule 2 of the Competition and Consumer Act Page vi

7 Executive summary CCAAC has identified a range of better practice principles and policy measures that may reduce transaction costs by supporting easier price comparison, and eliminate consumer misunderstanding. When applying surcharges and fees, CCAAC considers that businesses should: adopt simpler pricing methods; improve the practicality of surcharge and fee-free options; avoid use of minimum pricing; improve the clarity of prices with clear, prominent and timely disclosure; and ensure that surcharges and fees are accurately described, including by avoiding terms that are ambiguous to consumers. While CCAAC does not propose any specific amendments to the ACL, there could be some benefit in giving further consideration as to how the ACL could provide consumers with clear and transparent pricing information. CCAAC notes that other consumer protections, including the prohibition of misleading or deceptive conduct, may apply in some circumstances. In general, where surcharges are clearly disclosed and where there is a widely available and equally convenient alternative to a surcharged payment method, concerns about excessive surcharging are likely to be greatly diminished. However, in the absence of those conditions further consideration may be given to how surcharges can be restricted to acceptance costs. Therefore, CCAAC finds that there is likely to be a public benefit associated with a consumer regulator being capable of ensuring that credit card surcharges are limited to the reasonable costs of card acceptance. Consumer expectations are unlikely to be met if a business were able to apply surcharges that go beyond the reasonable cost of card acceptance, simply by describing them by using different and ambiguous terms. Further consultation would support policymakers in determining the need for additional or amended consumer laws to facilitate public enforcement action. Policymakers may also wish to consider whether a specific policy response is required for surcharges applied to transactions that are processed online. CCAAC does not advocate any amendment to the Standards or to the RBA s Guidance Note. The current regime is the result of extensive consideration by the RBA, and it would be premature at this stage to recommend amendments. It is noted that the RBA will undertake ongoing monitoring of the impact of the amended Standards, and is the best placed body to do so. Page vii

8 Credit card surcharges and non-transparent transaction fees A study FINDINGS At the time of this study, some of the card schemes have updated their scheme rules in light of the amended standards. Internationally, merchant obligations vary with some jurisdictions banning credit card surcharges while other jurisdictions restrict their application. While surcharging is not a universal practice, it is more common in industries typically seen to lack strong competitive pressures. Consequences of surcharges and fees that are not transparent include an increase in consumers transaction costs when comparing the price of goods and services, as well as potential consumer detriment resulting from the misleading nature of a surcharge or fee. Consumers are concerned at the additional costs imposed by surcharges and fees as well as the lack of fairness associated with excessive surcharges and fees that cross-subsidise other business activities. CCAAC finds that there is likely to be a public benefit associated with a consumer regulator being capable of ensuring that credit card surcharges are limited to the reasonable costs of card acceptance. Terms such as service fee, transaction surcharge, administration fee, and processing fee are taken by consumers to mean a range of things. CCAAC encourages industry participants to provide clear and easily understood information to consumers on the meaning of these terms. RECOMMENDATIONS CCAAC does not propose any specific amendments to the ACL but considers that policymakers may wish to consider further consultation on: possible amendments to require a representation to be made about any fees that are applied on a per-transaction basis whenever a representation is made about the price of a good or service; possible amendments requiring the upfront disclosure (in a clear and prominent manner) of any fees or surcharges that a consumer may or may not incur in purchasing a good or service; amendments requiring the prominent disclosure of the availability of different types of payment methods; and the need for further clarification as to how the component pricing provision applies in circumstances where the availability and useability of surcharge or fee-free options are limited. Page viii

9 Executive summary CCAAC considers that any amendments to the ACL should be complementary to the card scheme arrangements currently monitored by the RBA. CCAAC considers that it would be appropriate for the ACCC to investigate transactions processed online more broadly, including the application of credit card surcharges given it accords with the ACCC s publicly-stated priority concerning online trading. CCAAC has identified a range of better practice principles that could improve surcharge and fee-transparency. It considers that the application of the identified best practice principles should occur firstly through industry efforts supplemented by any enforcement mechanism that policymakers may choose to implement as also recommended by this study. In amending the Standards, the RBA committed to monitoring its effects on an ongoing basis and acting if it deems further action to be in the public interest. CCAAC encourages the RBA to give full consideration to the interests of consumers in its ongoing monitoring. However, given that recent changes to the Standards came into effect on 18 March 2013, CCAAC considers that policymakers may wish to allow an appropriate period of time to pass, in order to assess the need for further action. Page ix

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11 THE COMMONWEALTH CONSUMER AFFAIRS ADVISORY COUNCIL CCAAC TERMS OF REFERENCE CCAAC is an expert advisory panel, which provides advice to the Minister for Competition Policy and Consumer Affairs on consumer policy issues. CCAAC s terms of reference are to: consider issues, reports and papers referred to it by the Minister and report to the Minister on their consumer policy implications, and in doing so take account of the need for well-functioning markets with confident consumers; identify emerging issues affecting Australian markets and consumers and draw these to the attention of the Minister; and when considering consumer policy issues, take account of their competition and other relevant economic implications. Membership The membership of CCAAC consists of: Mr Colin Neave AM (Chair); Ms Carolyn Bond AO; Professor Stephen Corones; Ms Lynda Edwards; Ms Deborah Healey; Mr Peter Kell; Mr Gordon Renouf; Dr Rhonda Smith; and Mr Ray Steinwall. Page xi

12 Credit card surcharges and non-transparent transaction fees A study TERMS OF REFERENCE Consumer stakeholders have raised concerns about credit card surcharges and non-transparent transaction fees, particularly the extent to which they: hide the true cost of goods and services where a surcharge or fee is a significant amount of the total cost; are inadequately disclosed, including where they are only revealed at the point of payment; and are levied in circumstances where there are no practical alternative payment options. Consumers are afforded protections aimed at ensuring transparency in the display of prices for goods and services. This includes the general prohibition against misleading and deceptive conduct and the single price provision of the Australian Consumer Law (which forms Schedule 2 of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010), and the mirror protections under the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act There are also standards that promote efficiency and competition in the Australian payments system, including the recently amended Surcharging Standards made under the Payment Systems (Regulation) Act 1998, that allow card scheme rules to limit surcharges to the reasonable cost of card acceptance. CCAAC is requested to commence a study into the experiences of Australian consumers when they encounter credit card surcharges and non-transparent transaction fees. CCAAC is also requested to provide advice as to the prevalence of merchants applying surcharges or fees that appear excessive and where they hide the true cost of goods and services where a surcharge or fee is a significant amount of the total cost. As part of this study, CCAAC should: investigate consumer experiences with credit card surcharges or transaction fees, including where consumers could be misled about the true cost of a good or service; examine the obligations of merchants when applying credit card surcharges or transaction fees, including how these obligations are enforced; and identify best practices to improve the transparency of credit card surcharges or transaction fees, including the use of consistent terminology and disclosure practices. CCAAC is asked to provide its report to the Assistant Treasurer by the end of July Page xii

13 CONTENTS EXECUTIVE SUMMARY... V FINDINGS... VIII RECOMMENDATIONS... VIII THE COMMONWEALTH CONSUMER AFFAIRS ADVISORY COUNCIL... XI TERMS OF REFERENCE... XII CONTENTS... XIII GLOSSARY... 1 PART I INTRODUCTION AND CONTEXT... 3 Overview of community concerns... 3 Other reviews and consultations... 4 Structure of this report... 5 PART II THE REGULATORY FRAMEWORK AND MERCHANT OBLIGATIONS... 7 Card scheme rules... 7 The impact of introducing credit and scheme debit card surcharging... 7 Limiting surcharges to the reasonable cost of card acceptance... 9 Blended Surcharging...10 Enforcement of card scheme rules...11 Australia s consumer protection framework...12 Consumer protection and financial products...13 Consumer protections applying to surcharges and fees...14 International merchant obligations...16 Summary of findings...18 PART III THE CONSUMER EXPERIENCE IN CONTEXT The use of credit card surcharges and transaction fees...19 Credit card surcharges...19 Transaction fees...21 Industry conditions that encourage use of surcharges and fees...21 The price signal, transaction costs and consumer detriment...22 The price signal...22 Consequences of surcharges and fees for consumers...23 Summary of findings...25 PART IV IMPROVING THE TRANSPARENCY OF SURCHARGES AND FEES FOR CONSUMERS Better practice principles for merchants...28 Adopting simpler pricing methods...29 Providing practical surcharge and fee-free options for consumers...30 Avoiding use of minimum pricing...32 Improving the clarity of prices...33 Ensuring that surcharges and fees are accurately described...34 Policy measures for further consideration...34 Upfront and transparent information...34 Continued monitoring of the payments system...36 Page xiii

14 Credit card surcharges and non-transparent transaction fees A study Public enforcement of obligations limiting credit card surcharges...36 Surcharging in the online environment...38 Summary of findings...39 PART V CONCLUSION REFERENCES APPENDIX 1 SUMMARY OF SURVEY RESULTS Table A1 Surcharges encountered by consumers...45 Surcharge amounts...46 Industries and businesses applying surcharges...46 Table A2 Disclosure of surcharges and fees...46 Table A3 Surcharges applied to payment methods...47 Table A4 Consumer behaviour with fee-free alternatives...48 Table A5 Consumer behaviour without fee-free alternatives...48 Table A6 Surcharges and consumer attention...49 Consumer understanding of terms...49 Table A7 Consumer awareness of merchant obligations...49 Improvements to disclosure practices...50 APPENDIX 2 OVERVIEW OF THE CONSULTATION PROCESS APPENDIX 3 OVERVIEW OF ACCC COMPLAINTS Page xiv

15 GLOSSARY ACCC ACL Acquirer ASIC CALC Card schemes CCAAC Issuer Merchant Merchant service fee PSB RBA Regulation Act Australian Competition and Consumer Commission Australian Consumer Law An institution that provides a merchant with facilities to accept card payments, accounts to the merchant for the proceeds and clears and settles the resulting obligations with card issuers. Australian Securities and Investments Commission Consumer Action Law Centre Institutions (such as American Express, MasterCard and Visa) that establish rules and administer or operate networks that enable payment by credit or debit cards. Commonwealth Consumer Affairs Advisory Council A financial institution that provides its customers with credit or debit cards. A merchant, such as a retailer, that accepts a credit card or debit card for payment for goods or services. A transaction-based fee (typically a fixed per cent of each transaction) charged to a merchant for acquiring credit or debit card transactions. Payments System Board Reserve Bank of Australia Payment Systems (Regulation) Act 1998 Surcharging Standards Standards made under the Payment Systems (Regulation Act) 1998 and imposed by the Reserve Bank of Australia which govern credit and debit card surcharging rules of card schemes. Survey The Survey conducted on the Commonwealth Consumer Affairs Advisory Council s website in relation to this study. Page 1

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17 PART I INTRODUCTION AND CONTEXT The Assistant Treasurer, the Hon David Bradbury MP, requested CCAAC to undertake a study into the experiences of Australian consumers when they encounter credit card surcharges and transaction fees. This study examines credit and debit card surcharges and transaction fees through a consumer policy lens. Australia s consumer protection framework provides Australian consumers with a set of basic rights and responsibilities to allow them to engage confidently within the marketplace, and to support them in making their own purchasing decisions. In essence, consumer policies are intended to ensure that consumers get what they pay for. This study is distinguished from earlier review processes through its focus on the consumer impacts of surcharges and transaction fees, including the manner in which they are applied, and whether there are any implications for consumer policy settings. We note, however, that consumers ability to benefit from, and activate, competition is a key contributor to efficient markets and is necessary to obtain the full benefits of the reasonable cost surcharging reforms. The study provides an opportunity to consider how the consumer policy framework can support broader efficiency considerations, including by enabling consumers to benefit from competition. This study has been informed by responses to a consumer survey conducted on the CCAAC website (see Appendix 1 for a summary of results), submissions by industry and consumer stakeholders (see Appendix 2 for an overview of the consultation process), ACCC complaints (see Appendix 3 for an overview of ACCC complaints) and other research. OVERVIEW OF COMMUNITY CONCERNS This study s terms of reference notes that consumer stakeholders have raised concerns about credit card surcharges and non-transparent transaction fees, particularly the extent to which they: hide the true cost of goods and services where a surcharge or fee is a significant amount of the total cost; are inadequately disclosed, including where they are only revealed at the point of payment; and are levied in circumstances where there are no practical alternative payment options. CCAAC has undertaken this study in the light of recent amendments to the Standards, 2 made under the Regulation Act that allows card scheme rules to limit surcharges to the reasonable cost of card acceptance. Consumer organisations and card schemes have 2 Including Standard No. 2, Merchant Pricing for Credit Card Purchases; and The Honour All Cards Rule in the Visa Debit and Visa Credit Card Systems and the No Surcharge Rule in the Visa Debit System. Page 3

18 Credit card surcharges and non-transparent transaction fees A study expressed concern about the enforcement of card scheme rules that limit card surcharges. 3 CHOICE has suggested that further action is required given a lack of change in the surcharging practices of some Australian businesses. 4 In its submission, CHOICE highlighted commissioned research findings that 44 per cent of people who had used their credit card in the three months to May 2013 reported paying a surcharge. 5 Of those 44 per cent of respondents, around 40 per cent reported that they did not know how much the surcharge was and 44 per cent reported that they were not offered or made aware of another payment method that did not attract a surcharge. The Consumer Action Law Centre (CALC) highlighted that poor disclosure and excessive surcharging can make it harder for consumers to compare prices between merchants, induce consumers into spending more time and money searching the market than is efficient, and can lead to consumers being misled about the actual prices of products. 6 Consumer respondents to the Survey indicated a general dissatisfaction with the surcharging practices of certain industries including airlines, ticketing agencies, cinemas and theatres, taxis, telecommunications and utility providers, and accommodation and tourism providers. Approximately 43 per cent of the Survey s respondents indicated that they often encounter surcharges and fees above 2.5 per cent. Some respondents reported paying surcharges of around 33 per cent. It is also evident that consumers are concerned about the disclosure of surcharges and fees, particularly where they cannot be easily avoided. OTHER REVIEWS AND CONSULTATIONS Credit card surcharging has recently been the subject of an extensive review process. Consultations undertaken by the RBA have included the following consultation documents: Review of Card Surcharging (June 2011); 7 A Variation to the Surcharging Standards (December 2011); 8 A Variation to the Surcharging Standards: Final Reforms and Regulation Impact Statement (June 2012); 9 and Guidance Note: Interpretation of the Surcharging Standards (November 2012) See submissions by CHOICE and Visa. 4 See submission by CHOICE. 5 Ibid. 6 See submission by CALC. 7 RBA 2011, Review of Card Surcharging: A Consultation Document, June 2011, Reserve Bank of Australia, Sydney, viewed 9 July < 8 RBA 2011, A Variation to the Surcharging Standards: A Consultation Document, December 2011, Reserve Bank of Australia, Sydney, viewed 9 July < variation-surcharging-standards/index.html>. 9 RBA 2012, A Variation to the Surcharging Standards: Final Reforms and Regulation Impact Statement, June 2012, Reserve Bank of Australia, Sydney, viewed 9 July < Page 4

19 Part I Introduction and context Previous reviews of card surcharging, including those undertaken by the RBA, have examined them within the context of the payments system. An efficient payments system is important to facilitating economic exchange within the Australian economy. Previous reviews of card surcharging have benefited Australian consumers by supporting their ability to transact efficiently within the Australian economy. A number of submissions raised issues relating to the efficiency implications of credit card surcharging. While these considerations are important, CCAAC notes that it is the Payments System Board (PSB) of the RBA that oversees the payments system in Australia and that this study does not concern broader policy settings that relate to the payments system. STRUCTURE OF THIS REPORT Part II examines the regulatory framework and other merchant obligations, including those provided for through card scheme rules, as well as obligations applying to businesses operating overseas. Part III examines the consumer experience in context, including the consumer impacts of surcharges and fees. Part IV provides an overview of better practice principles that could improve the transparency of surcharges and fees as well as policy measures for consideration. Part V provides CCAAC s concluding remarks. 10 RBA 2012, Guidance Note: Interpretation of the Surcharging Standards, Reserve Bank of Australia, Sydney, November 2012, viewed 9 July < var-surcharging-stnds-guidance/guidance-note.html >. Page 5

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