Visa has challenged accusations that the fees it charges on credit card transactions are too high, levelled by ecommerce giant Amazon.
Amazon recently revealed it will soon no longer allow UK-based customers to pay for items using Visa credit cards, citing “the continued high cost of payments”. It later emerged the firm may also end its partnership with Visa on co-branded credit cards in the US.
However, Visa CEO Al Kelly has come out in defense of his company, which he says is committed to resolving the dispute with Amazon. He also illustrated the complexity of Visa’s position on fees, which are subject to a combination of external pressures.
“Clearly, we’re in a challenging negotiation,” said Kelly. “What’s different here is that Amazon unfortunately decided to take the negotiation challenges public and oddly has chosen to threaten to punish consumers.”
“At Visa, we have the responsibility in the markets where pricing is unregulated to set price, and nobody’s ever happy with us. If price comes down, financial institutions aren’t happy, the price goes up, merchants aren’t happy.”
Visa credit cards on Amazon
Amazon’s move to stop accepting Visa credit cards in the UK is just the latest salvo in an ongoing dispute between the two companies.
In response to an increase in Visa fees, Amazon recently introduced 0.5% surcharges on payments made using Visa credit cards in both Singapore and Australia, which are shouldered by the consumer. In both countries, customers were offered a discount on the first purchase made using an alternative payment method.
In the UK, meanwhile, Visa began charging an additional 1.5% on cross-border credit card payments between the UK and EU, capitalizing on the fact the EU-enforced cap on fees no longer applies post-Brexit.
Amazon has also previously said it feels aggrieved by rises in Visa fees that were justified by the need to shield against fraud and identity theft, since the merchant (not the payments provider) is legally responsible for instances of fraud.
At first glance, it would appear Amazon is wielding the ban on Visa credit cards as a bargaining chip in the ongoing negotiations, but some believe the company has ulterior motives too.
For example, the Visa boycott could lead to a rise in the adoption of Amazon’s own line of credit and payment cards, issued by Mastercard. In addition to incurring no surcharges, payments made using Amazon cards also earn customers rewards and money back on future purchases.
In an exchange with City AM, Amazon denied the move to ban Visa credit card transactions has anything to do with its own payment cards.
By Joel Khalili