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Respite from online credit card fees could help struggling small businesses: industry groups

Last Updated Jan 4, 2021 at 2:02 pm PST

A shopper making an online purchase. GETTY IMAGES/Johnnie Davis

An increase in online shopping during the pandemic has come at a price for small businesses

Fees on credit card transactions can be 2.5 per cent of higher when buying products online

Small businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic, with many forced to close temporarily or permanently

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — With more items being bought online to limit in-person shopping during the pandemic, industry groups are calling for a break from credit card companies to help small businesses faced with higher transaction fees.

Corinne Pohlmann, with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, says given how much sales have shifted online during this crisis, some help would go a long way.

“It’s really important in any format it can take and credit card fees are just one of many things to help small businesses to get through this pretty difficult time,” she says. “We continue to advocate for keeping a control on the amount of fees, we continue to advocate for making sure there’s fairness in how these fees are being applied.”

Purchases typically come with a 1.4 per cent transaction fee for credit cards, but it can be 2.5 per cent or higher when made online, Pohlmann says.

Small businesses have been hit hard by the pandemic, with many forced to close temporarily or permanently.

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Anita Huberman with the Surrey Board of Trade says credit card companies or the federal government need to step in to give small businesses a break.

“So what needs to happen now is new solutions for online transactions to help small businesses, but also our larger retailers, which we don’t want to lose either,” she tells NEWS 1130.

“Higher costs for some online transactions can actually serve as an impediment and has been an impediment for many small businesses, which are the driving economic engine, not only for British Columbia, but also our nation.”

Buyers can also use debit rather than credit cards to reduce fees for small businesses.

In an email to NEWS 1130, a spokesperson for Mastercard didn’t explain if there were plans to potentially reducing fees.

“Mastercard has a proud history of supporting small businesses and we continue to provide tools, insights and resources to support this critical part of the Canadian economy,” the email reads.