TASMANIAS green bag hero Ben Kearney has embarked on a new fight to protect consumers and small businesses.
Mr Kearney, who led the push for environmentally friendly green bags at shops around the state, is now taking on the consortium that owns EFTPOS after it announced a new fee for all of its shopping transactions.
Mr Kearney, who is national policy manager of the Australian Newsagents Federation, said the fee would make it more difficult for newsagencies to compete against big retailers.
We are very concerned it is inevitable the banks will pass on the fee and it is coming at the worst possible time, he said.
Mr Kearney said newsagents would be among the hardest hit because most of their customer transactions were done by EFTPOS.
The federation, which represents about 3800 agencies, is waiting to see what the banks do before seeking a meeting with Small Business Minister Nick Sherry.
Newsagents operate on such tight margins it will be hard for them to pass on the fee, Mr Kearney said.
EPAL, the consortium that owns EFTPOS, is planning to introduce a revised fee structure in October to raise funds for a much-needed upgrade.
At the moment, the cardholders bank covers the cost of each EFTPOS transaction, but the restructure would see this cost passed on to the retailers bank instead.
Under the new model, the merchants bank will incur a 5c cent fee for every EFTPOS transaction over $15. Transactions under $15 will be free.
The major banks have until next month to inform EPAL whether they will opt into the new interchange fee system, and also whether they plan to pass the new charge on to the merchant who in turn could charge customers.
EPAL argues the move is necessary to raise capital to make EFTPOS more competitive against VISA and Mastercard debit cards.
Mr Kearney said the ANF was also concerned EPAL shareholders Coles and Woolworths would not be affected by the new fee arrangement as they could choose to stay on the existing scheme.
Australian Retailers Association executive director Russell Zimmerman said banks should absorb the new fees, adding that retailers should not be forced to pass on the costs to consumers in a tough market.
EPAL chief executive Bruce Mansfield said the fee swap was necessary to bring about investment in the system.
It is important that EFTPOS remains a competitive domestic payment scheme so we need to invest in it to make it safer and to improve the technology to meet the consumer demands of wanting to pay their bills on their mobiles, over the phone etcetera, Mr Mansfield said.
Tags: Shopping Transactions