Recharging of card payment costs restricted

Together with the PSD2, a European regulation was launched in 2013 (Regulation (EU) 2015/751) that limits the level of interchange fees for debit card and credit card-based payments (“Multilateral Interchange Fees” or MIFs). These interchange fees are costs that a retailer pays to the provider of a card as part of an electronic card transaction (with a bank card (debit card) or a credit card). From now on, providers may charge a fee of no more than 0.2% of the total amount for debit card transactions and 0.3% for credit card transactions. In anticipation of the PSD2, this regulation entered into force throughout the European Union on 9 December 2015 and applies to so-called “Domestic Secure Consumer” transactions.

Payment transactions

The PSD2 also introduces a ban on charging the costs of payment transactions to consumers via surcharges on the use of a specific payment method, often credit cards. The revised payment directive states that divergent national practices related to charging for the use of a particular payment instrument have led to a very heterogeneous payment market in the European Union. This situation is a source of confusion for consumers, especially in the context of electronic commerce and cross-border situations. Retailers / merchants located in Member States where surcharges may be levied, offer products and services in Member States where surcharges are prohibited, and charge a surcharge to the consumer. There are also many examples of merchants that charge consumers extra costs that are much higher than the costs borne by the retailer / merchant for the use of that payment instrument.

Interchange fees

In December 2015, the level of interchange fees for card-based payments was limited. Interchange fees are the most important part of the card rates that retailers / merchants have to pay to the payment service provider for cards and card-based payments. To compensate for these costs, merchants therefore sometimes set a surcharge for the use of these payment methods. The European Commission considers this to be undesirable because it counteracts competition between card providers. Therefore, Member States should prevent merchants from charging fees for the use of payment instruments for which interchange fees are regulated by Chapter II of Regulation (EU) 2015/751. This requirement also applies to the SEPA Credit Transfer and SEPA Direct Debit transactions.

Note that costs may still be charged to discourage the use of inefficient payment instruments (e.g. the Dutch giro collection form, Acceptgiro), provided this is not prohibited by local legislation.

Payment service provider

A payment service provider may also charge costs for the premature termination of a contract by the payment service user. The payment service user can in principle always terminate the agreement free of charge, except when the agreement has been in operation for less than six months. Any costs to be charged for termination of the agreement must be appropriate and in accordance with the actual costs.

> 4. Consumer liability reduced