Small businesses want banks to permanently halt Paywave fees

Covid-19 lockdown saw banks waive fees on Paywave transactions until June, and now some small business owners want them scrapped permanently. 

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Fees are currently waived until the end of June. Source: 1 NEWS

Christchurch hairdresser and Belle Coiffure co-owner Ellen Hood said debit card Paywave transaction fees were just another way banks ate away at small businesses’ profit margins.

She said a year’s fees was the equivalent of hiring a part-time salon assistant, and that small businesses “have really felt the brunt” of the pandemic’s impact on the economy.

“It’s unknown what’s going to happen with small businesses,” Ms Hood said.

“A lot of big businesses have money and structure behind them … anything to help small businesses, I think, should be on the cards really.”

For Bushra Aljundi, owner of Christchurch’s Grain Coffee and Eatery, a year’s Paywave fees is equal to a year’s worth of wages for a part-time barista.

“There are so many ongoing costs and so many things people don't realise,” she said.

She said operating an EFTPOS machine meant bank fees, commissions on every transaction and other non-bank costs.

“Those things really do add up,” Ms Aljundi said. 

Many countries pay minimal or no fees for Paywave. For example, Kiwi retailers pay more than three times the amount of their UK counterparts.

Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Fa’afor said he was engaging with the industry about how it could bring down contactless fees. He encouraged retailers to talk to their banks about possible waivers.