The Parliament today passed the Turnbull Government’s tough new laws that will protect consumers from excessive card surcharging.
The Competition and Consumer Amendment (Payment Surcharges) Bill 2015 passed the Senate this morning. The ban on excessive card surcharging will take effect this year.
Card and other electronic payments are critical for the efficient operation of the economy, facilitating billions of transactions every year. It is therefore crucial that consumers have confidence in the payments system.
Whilst many merchants do pass on costs fairly, some merchants engage in this practice abusively. Consumers are entitled to a fair deal. That’s why the Turnbull Government took action to ensure customers are charged no more than the amount that reflects the true amount of the merchant's costs in accepting that payment.
The laws equip the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) with new powers to enforce the ban on excessive surcharging, including the ability to gather information from those involved in the payments process and the authority to issue infringement notices against those engaging in excessive surcharging.
If the ACCC forms the view that a merchant has engaged in excessive surcharging, they may issue an infringement notice including a penalty for listed corporations of up to 600 penalty units, currently $108,000, for each alleged contravention.
The Law is an important step in further implementing the Turnbull Government’s response to the Financial System Inquiry and providing greater protection for Australian consumers.
The ban on surcharging will work in tandem with Reserve Bank of Australia Payments System Board standards that will set the permitted surcharge for payments. Stakeholders will have an opportunity to participate in this process by responding to the Consultation Paper on the Review of Card Payments Regulation.
Further details are available on the Reserve Bank website.
The scheduled commencement for the ban will allow for the RBA consultation process to take place while providing a reasonable period for merchants to prepare for the new arrangements.