Retailers back proposed lower Paywave fees

Retailers could be a step closer to paying less for Paywave now the Government's proposed to cap those fees.

Currently, stores pay banks nearly twice as much in merchant service fees as Australian retailers, which some shops say they cannot afford.

Wellington St Vincent de Paul op shop manager Irina Alpeeva says the store can't afford Paywave - even though every second customer tries to use it.

"It's more convenient for our customers, and from a hygiene perspective a lot of people try to use Paywave, but with the current percent it's just too much."

She believes merchant service fees cost the store $1000 per year, and she says they "definitely" need that extra money.

Retailers pay the bank a fee whenever a customer uses contactless payment. In 2019, merchant service fees were 1.5 percent of a credit card purchase and 1.1 percent for debit cards. 

Comparatively, the UK charges 0.3 percent and Australia charges 0.6 percent.

Small Business Minister Stuart Nash says merchant fees cost retailers $13,000 more in New Zealand than Australia. The Government on Thursday proposed to even the playing field and launched a discussion document for consultation.

"Costs that are being charged get passed on first to the retailer and then the consumer," Minister for Commerce and Consumer Affairs David Clark said.

Retail NZ says a cap would be the difference between small businesses offering contactless payment or not - a sentiment that true for shoppers in Wellington Newshub spoke to. 

"It's faster and more efficient," one said.

"It's quicker and you don't have to touch anything," said another.

"Suits me, bang it over the counter," a third person told Newshub.

Banks temporarily waived merchant fees during COVID-19's peak in New Zealand in the first half of the year, but Retail NZ says once the fees were back, some retailers stopped offering contactless payment.

"The banks have the ability to waive those fees. They haven't," Nash said.

Newshub contacted four major banks in New Zealand - most said they welcomed the Government's consultation.