Credit card companies Visa, Eftpos distance themselves from interchange fee campaign

IEAPVisa and Eftpos have both distanced themselves from a campaign opposing Reserve Bank of Australia’s plans to remove the Eftpos interchange fees.

Both organisations told Mumbrella they have had nothing to do with the ‘Don’t Change my Interchange’ campaign launched by an international body called the International Alliance for Electronic Payments (IAEP), which is based in Alpharetta Georgia in the United States.

Mastercard, which is a client of global consultancy FTI Consulting who registered the campaign website, had not responded to Mumbrella requests for comment at time of publication.

Consumer body Choice yesterday branded the campaign “shadowy”, arguing it was unclear who exactly was behind the ads which, according to a press release issued by the IAEP, will run nationally across TV and radio.

Visa this morning said it has not been involved in the Australian campaign amid speculation it may have been funded by financial institutions.

A spokeswoman said: “I can confirm Visa isn’t behind this campaign and we’ve had no involvement in it.”

Eftpos also stressed it had not been involved. “We had nothing to do with this campaign,” said a spokesman.

A campaign website has been registered to FTI Consulting, who are listed as a lobbyist on the Government website and lists Mastercard as one of their clients.

It has emerged that IAEP is a little-known body headquartered in Alpharetta Georgia, a town which has a population of 57,000. The group is also behind a campaign in Europe called My Card Matters which on its website asks consumers: “do you want regulation to get between you and your credit card”.

It goes on to warn that “capping interchange fees will cost you more” and urged people to sign a petition.

FTI Consulting senior managing director of strategic communications, Paul Downie, rejected suggestions from Choice that the campaign was “shadowy”, saying it made it clear that IAEP was behind campaign.

He said the IAEP is a not-for-profit organisation acting on behalf of economic policy institutions, consumers, consumer groups and small community lending institutions.

Among its members are American Commitment, Americans for Tax Reform, Austrian Economic Centre, Center for Individual Freedom, Frontiers of Freedom, Institute for Economic Studies-Europe, Lithuanian Free Market Institute and UK Taxpayer’s Alliance.

Downie told Mumbrella it views Australia as a “mature and sophisticated” market and is concerned that any change in regulation locally may be “copied” by other nations.

The Interchange fee is whereby business pays a bank so it can accept a credit card and debit payments. Credit card companies charge a higher fee than Eftpos and would have more to lose were changes to go ahead.

The campaign warns consumers they could lose a number of benefits if the interchange fee is removed, including ability to use cards online and in stores; fraud protection and security; money is restored in full, if it’s stolen; access to credit and interest free credit for up to 55 days.

Steve Jones


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