The Turnbull Government today introduced tough new laws in the Parliament to deliver on our commitment to protect consumers through banning excessive card surcharging.
The Competition and Consumer Amendment (Payment Surcharges) Bill 2015 will ban excessive payment surcharges and is an important step in implementing the Government’s response to the Financial System Inquiry.
The Turnbull Government is committed to improving Australia’s payments system to achieve a more efficient system and fairer outcomes for consumers and business.
Whilst many merchants do pass on costs fairly, some merchants engage in this practice abusively. Consumers are entitled to a fair deal. Consequently the Government is taking 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 legislation includes equipping the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) with new powers to enforce the ban on 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.
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.
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, released today. I encourage interested parties to engage with this consultation process.
Further details are available at: www.rba.gov.au
In order for the RBA consultation process to take place, and provide a reasonable period for merchants to prepare for the new arrangements, the ban is scheduled to take effect from mid-2016.