Pressure on NAB to reduce tap-and-go costs as other banks fully implement cheaper routing


National Australia Bank. Source: AAP/Mick Tsikas.

Pressure is building on National Australia Bank (NAB) to complete the rollout of reforms which make it cheaper for to process tap-and-go card payments.

Earlier this week Commonwealth Bank bowed to several years of industry lobbying, announcing its merchants will be able to select which network they use when processing contactless payments.

It comes in the wake of similar moves by ANZ and Westpac earlier this year, leaving NAB as the only big four bank yet to finalise the rollout for its customers. 

NAB is believed to have been working on a rollout for some time and is  expected to make an announcement in the coming weeks after promising to implement a new system last April.

“We are working on enabling this for more of our customers in the coming weeks,” a NAB spokesperson said.

“Our focus is on making sure our business customers have the payment options they want while also giving cardholders choice and a good user experience.”

Last year all the major banks pledged to allow merchants to choose how they process the increasingly popular payment option, amid concern businesses are being gouged.

Tap-and-go payments are convenient but because customers don’t select a routing option the transactions often process through Visa or Mastercard networks rather than EFTPOS.

Fees through those networks can be up to four times higher, according to the RBA, which has found average EFTPOS fees are about 0.26%, compared to 0.58% through Visa and Mastercard.

It all adds up and for the last few years, the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) alongside small business ombudsman Kate Carnell have been lobbying banks to give businesses more choice.

Last year the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics recommended the major banks adopt the system, echoing similar calls from the Productivity Commission and Black Economy Taskforce.

The banks finally agreed to change, coincidentally after disruptors like Tyro began stealing market share with their own lower fee model for merchants.

Commonwealth Bank and NAB agreed to implement least cost routing back in 2017, but it has taken several years for the systems to go live. 

That has prompted a response from retail advocates.

“There is no doubt the banks are dragging their heels,” Carnell told SmartCompany late last year.

Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank has previously raised the prospect of intervening if all the major banks don’t change their models.

“The Reserve Bank will continue to monitor progress in implementing least-cost routing, and the Board may consider regulation if there are signs of material delays to its wide availability to merchants,” the RBA has said.

NOW READ: Big banks “dragging their heels” on reducing tap-and-go costs for businesses

NOW READ: “A lot more customers”: Why hundreds of businesses are ditching surcharges


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