Consumers are set to potentially benefit from a ban on credit and debit card surcharges, which will take effect from 13 January.
From this date, UK businesses will no longer be permitted to charge consumers extra for paying by credit or debit card for goods or services online, or in a small shop.
In July 2017, the Treasury announced that the ban was set to be introduced. It stated that ‘rip-off charges have no place in a modern Britain’, and that the ban will help to promote ‘fairness and transparency’.
The change could, however, lead to a rise in prices for customers, as businesses may seek to recoup the revenue lost as a result of the introduction of the ban.
Experts have also questioned how the ban will be policed, with the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) warning that it will be difficult to enforce.
Commenting on the ban, Gareth Shaw, Money Expert at consumer group Which?, said: ‘This ban should finally stop consumers being penalised simply for using their card. However, people will be wary if it results in price increases, minimum spend limits or even cards being refused by retailers.
‘The government and the regulator need to closely monitor the effectiveness of the ban – and the fees banks charge retailers for card payments – to ensure that it has the positive impact for consumers originally intended.’
Data published by UK Finance has revealed that card spending totalled £57.1 billion in June – representing a 7% rise when compared to a year earlier.
1.4 billion card payments were made in June, which constitutes a 12% rise when compared to the same time last year.
Contactless payments accounted for 34% of all card transactions, the data found. Online payments constituted 13% of all transactions.
Spending in the retail sector rose by £19 million during June, to total £26.1 billion. Spending on food and drink increased to £10 billion in June.
Meanwhile, services sector spending rose by £138 million to reach £31 billion.
Richard Koch, Head of Cards at UK Finance, said: ‘Contactless payments accounted for a third of transactions in June, with consumers continuing to use their cards for lower value purchases.
‘While spending recorded a relatively modest monthly growth, the number of transactions rose at a faster rate with some 46 million card purchases made every day.’
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has set out proposals to require banks to publish information on the quality of customer service that they provide.
Banks may be required to outline how long it takes to open an account or replace a lost, stolen or stopped debit card.
Under the proposals, they may need to explain how long it takes for an individual to be granted access to a personal current account under a power of attorney.
The FCA also revealed that firms who offer personal current accounts could be required to outline how and when consumers can carry out different transactions, and whether 24-hour help is available.
In addition, banks may need to publish data on the number of security incidents they experience.
Christopher Woolard, Executive Director of Strategy and Competition at the FCA, said: ‘Customers tell us they think ‘all banks are the same’ and so they are discouraged from looking for current accounts offering better performance.
‘We know from our consumer research and the Competition and Markets Authority’s report that consumers and small businesses are really interested to know about the service their bank or building society offers compared to other firms.
‘These proposals represent a step forward, making it easier for consumers to judge whether their bank is offering good service and for firms to see if they are competing effectively against other providers.’
Over one billion contactless card payments were made during 2015, according to new data from the UK Cards Association.
Last year, one in 13 purchases were made using contactless card technology. This rose to one in eight during the month of December. The new figures also reveal that more money was spent using contactless technology last year than was spent during the previous seven years combined.
During 2015, a total of £7.75 billion was spent by shoppers using contactless cards in 1.05 billion transactions.
This payment method was introduced in the UK in 2007, initially for low-value transactions of up to £10. The limit further increased to £20 before reaching £30 during September 2015.
Furthermore, the UK Cards Association reported that 79 million credit and debit cards now feature contactless payment technology. This accounts for almost half of all cards.
However, some experts have expressed concerns over the security of contactless card payments. The consumer group Which? revealed that card information could be stolen by criminals wishing to make purchases online. This is achieved by the criminal standing close to a victim in order to ‘lift’ the card’s details.
Contactless cards now contain a built-in security check in the form of a pin number which must be entered after a shopper makes consecutive contactless payments. This then helps to verify the legitimate cardholder.
Trade association Payments UK predicts that, by the year 2024, a mere two cheques will be written by adults each year.
The organisation also claims that debit cards will become the most popular form of payment, with cash only being used to purchase goods twice in every three days.
The new prediction comes after a recent surge in the use of contactless technology as a method of payment, with small value transactions increasingly being made via contactless cards and devices.
Payments UK anticipates that, during 2016, the amount of payments that are non-cash will be noticeably higher than the use of coins and notes.
Additionally, the organisation also suggests that consumers will increasingly opt to purchase lottery tickets and supermarket goods online, instead of paying for them in cash.
By 2024, it is predicted that each adult will make an average of 225 cash payments a year, while the number of payments made using debit cards is expected to total 282 during the same year.