Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Small biz peeved MasterCard fees to rise

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TORONTO -- MasterCard Canada plans to follow Visa's lead and increase transaction fees for small merchants this summer, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business said.

The CFIB said Friday the credit card company has disclosed it plans a 20 per cent increase in its assessment fee to 7.7 basis points on July 1.

President Dan Kelly said while the increase is smaller than the one announced earlier by Visa, his organization -- the largest representing Canada's small and medium-sized businesses -- is dismayed by the decision. "CFIB is very disappointed that MasterCard is choosing to increase its fees at a time when small firms are struggling with an uncertain economy," Kelly said in a release.

He added it's particularly surprising that both major credit card brands are upping their fees just before Canada's Competition Tribunal is expected to rule in its case against the two credit card giants.

"Unfortunately, the only competition between Visa and MasterCard is to see who can raise prices the most for merchants and consumers and deliver the highest fees for Canada's banks," he said.

MasterCard issued a statement saying it has operated a "seamless and trusted" network for 45 years.

"We continuously work to balance the payments network so that all parties pay their fair share," it said.

MasterCard said it will continue to work with merchants and institutions that issue the cards to deliver payment methods "that deliver consumers a valuable purchasing experience."

The CFIB is among those arguing against industry rules that require businesses that accept Visa or MasterCard to treat all types of their cards equally, regardless of the cost of processing payments.

The CFIB says merchants and others who accept credit and debit cards need the right to be able to refuse high-cost cards or to add limited surcharges.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 5, 2013 B4

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