Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Retailer action against credit-card

Dutch retailers have opened their own private war on credit-cards. Frigthened and appalled by the penetration of credit-cards in the supermarket domain they now try to influence public opinion. While the 40 million credit-card-transactions are clearly irrelevant in the Dutch POS market of approximately 3 billion transactions, there is a movement in the retailer domain. So this week we see an article appearing in Trouw, quoting the chief of the branche-organisation for hotels/restaurants. Of course he claims the fees are too high and that retailers should surcharge more than they do now (in the Netherlands surcharging is allowed for about 10 years, but little use is made of that for credit cards - while extensive use is visible for those who make small debit-card payments below 10 euro).

And today we see an article by a restaurant owner in Rotterdam in Financieele Dagblad. The interesting thing is that from the article you might deduct that someone at the branch-organisation has written it. First of all it is a retailer that states that he he very much supports the efforts of the two branche-organisations: Koninklijke Horeca Nederland and Platform Detailhandel Nederland to deal with this serious credit-card issue. This is interesting because he forgets to write: 'From now on I am going to surcharge in my restaurant. And I encourage others to do so'.

Furthermore it looks as if the ghost writer of that letter has apparently looked at the Australian debate (where a real forest of goodies/points/systems on credit cards is present, while we do not have such a huge variety in the Netherlands). So this Dutch retailer states that consumers wish to pay by credit-card because of the goodies that come with the card. When reading it I think: true for Australia, not so much for the Netherlands.

So we have an obvious retailer action going on. But I guess the superficial reader would not read so closely and see the articles as a sign that something is rotten in the state of retailers. Let's see if this credit-card banging will also be the main retailer item tomorrow at a conference on SEPA in The Hague. Or will they use the conference to refuel the Maestro interchange debate?