The European Commission wants to harmonize the payment card market and considers that the only efficient way to do so is via regulatory or legislative measures. The EC proposes to arbitrarily reduce interchange. Interchange is the mechanism by which merchants and consumers fairly share the costs related to the functioning of payment cards and related services. If such a measure was implemented, the whole balance of online payments would be threatened.
Why is this such a threat? Simply because if interchange is no more paid by merchants, consumers will have to pay on their behalf. And if cards become more expensive as a result, consumers will use more cash (and checks), and will own fewer cards. This already happened on three different continents: in Australia, in the US and in Spain. Less cards per consumer or less card payments (and consequently more cash usage) will inevitably have an impact on online merchants, especially on new and innovative businesses.
In order to protect the trustful model we benefit from, I am today calling on action from entrepreneurs and those who, like me, have developed innovative businesses based on online payments, and who want to advocate to keep our efficient system. This efficient system enables us to invest, innovate, do business, and hire as soon as we can. Amongst other things, cards provide us as merchants with the certainty of being paid (even in case of fraud); with physical security compared to cash; and also with much less administrative burden. Cards also have the advantage to please our clients with the flexibility and security they bring.
As an online merchant, I am worried about the European Commission’s plans. I should be the first one to be satisfied since I should theoretically anticipate a decrease of my bank fees. But, in fact, the whole model would be damaged while e-commerce has been able to develop in France and in Europe precisely because of its components (e.g. confidence in payment cards; efforts made to secure and generalize online payments).
This issue is currently being discussed in Brussels while consumers (the most affected ones since they would have to pay more) and online merchants look overall indifferent. And the debate is barely visible amongst EU countries.
I thus call on all entrepreneurs of the digital economy who are fighting for innovation to join me and rally in order to convince their governments that the discreet plans of the European Commission are really, and deeply, dangerous.