Regulators Need to Monitor EFTPOS Charges

16/07/2018 08:46


The Consumer Council of Fiji is urging regulatory agencies to be on the lookout for new issues that are emerging as Fiji moves toward a cashless society.

The most recent change to encourage this move was announced by Government in the 2011-2018 budget with the removal of aII EFTPOS fees from Credit and Debit Cards. This initiative is applauded by the Council and will give consumers more incentive to go cashless.

However the Council has noted there are new issues emerging with the use of EFTPOS, specifically regarding swiping visa credit and debit cards on the machines of competing banks.

In one complaint recorded by the Council, a consumer had to pay a3per cent surcharge when using his Westpac Visa Debit Card on a BSP EFTPOS terminal while making a hardware purchase from Mahijibhai Hardware in Nadi.

According to BSP, the Westpac Visa Debit card is recognized by the EFTPOS terminal as a Credit Card, because it has to go through Visa international before connecting to Westpac Banking Corporation. Further, only BSP Fiji issued Visa Debit cards will be recognized as debit cards and not incur a surcharge.

However, what is most alarming is that BSP levied this sum to the merchant who then passed it to the customer. Banks are required to advise customers of all levies they charge on Debit and Credit cards prior to issuing them to consumers.

But in this case, because the charge was passed on from the merchant, the customer was unaware until he saw his receipt. He was alarmed as well because the EFTPOS machine treated his debit card as a credit card.

In a separate complaint, a consumer went to have a meal at Grace Road Kitchen and the business attempted to levy a $3 surcharge on him. He also had attempted to pay for the meal using a Westpac Visa Debit Card on a BSP EFTPOS terminal.

The Reserve bank stated that their policies dictate banking policies and disclosure of fees charged by the bank to the consumer. The surcharge to the customer is from the merchant and it is a levy to use the card as a means of payment.

The Consumer Council also suggests that banks work together to ensure inter-connectivity of EFTPOS machines and ATM machines. This will again incentivise a move to a more cashless society.