Federal Government Signals Additional Focus on Lowering Credit Card Fees in Fall Economic Statement 2022
The federal announced in its fall economic statement Building an Economy That Works for Everyone (“the Fall Economic Statement”) that it intended to “enter into negotiations” with payment card networks, financial institutions, acquirers, payment processors and businesses to lower credit card transactions fees for small businesses while seeking to protect “existing reward points for consumers”.
Draft legislative proposals to the Payment Card Networks Act were also concurrently published, providing for, among other things, regulation-making powers to regulate fees (including how they are determined, the maximum fee amounts and the range of fees permitted), fee disclosure requirements and fee change notice requirements. In the Fall Economic Statement, the federal government stated that, “[s]hould the industry not come to an agreed solution in the months to come, the government will introduce this legislation at the earliest possible opportunity in the new year and move forward on regulating credit card transaction fees.”
This development follows a series of voluntary commitments by payment card networks to lower credit card interchange fees, a number of previous budget announcements on lowering credit card fees, as well as a recent settlement in October 2022 of a long-standing class-action lawsuits against Visa and MasterCard and bank credit card issuers, following which Visa and Mastercard modified their rules to permit merchants to pass down surcharges for credit card payments to customers directly.
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 See Bancroft-Snell v. Visa Canada Corporation, 2019 ONCA 822 (CanLII); Coburn and Watson’s Metropolitan Home, 2019 BCCA 308 (CanLII); 9085-4886 Québec Inc. c. Visa Canada Corporation, 2018 QCCS 4872 (CanLII); Macaronies Hair Club and Laser Center Inc v Bank of Montreal, 2021 ABCA 40 (CanLII).