Or will t hey?
As a follow-up to last week’s post about the late-in-the-year settlement on card fees, and how those might affect both merchants and consumers, comes this additional item in the Washington Post.
The Post reports that community banks and credit unions are reporting lower fees for debit card use, as a result of all those changes in recent finance reform laws. Originally, such institutions were expected to be shielded from losses on the card fee front, which were only capped for larger banks. But it seems that the losses that many credit card processors absorbed, as a result of those lower fees, are being passed along to smaller institutions.
This means that these same institutions, usually considered much more consumer-friendly than the larger ones, may consider charging fees for formerly “free”‘ services for their customers. This hasn’t happened yet, and it doesn’t necessarily mean those fees will be charged for debit card swipes (they could be made up with changes to formerly “free” checking accounts, and more).
But it does bring up the idea that merchants need to stay abreast of potential changes that could affect their customers’ “swipe” habits. Do merchants want to pass along any rise in fees given to them, which might have the affect of disuading last-minute, or “impulse” purchases from customers, or is it worth absorbing those fees should the need arise?
What kind of loyalty, or reward, programs, can be offered to customers to keep them in a spending mood regarding your own goods and services? And recall that as many of these issues play out over the next couple of years, many of the newly-arrived at answers could become moot as mobile, cashless payments switch from being card-based, to phone-and-tablet based.