UK seeks alternative to Visa and Mastercard

The British government has urged the banking sector to reduce reliance on US payment networks

The UK should develop a “digital alternative” to challenge the dominance of US credit cards Visa and Mastercard, a government-commissioned review said this week.

“While cards make a tremendous contribution to the payments landscape, we heard notable dissatisfaction with the cost of card schemes on the part of shops, services, and other merchants – which may be in part due to a lack of choice or digital alternatives to the existing card schemes,” the review said.

The conclusions of the report, called the ‘Future of Payments Review’, reflect long-standing complaints across the EU about heavy reliance on American services for card payments. Repeated calls and attempts to switch to ‘home grown’ alternatives, however, have made little progress thus far.

The report urged the British payment sector to ramp up the use of open banking technology to bypass the traditional method of transferring money, which requires customers to enter sort codes and account numbers.

READ MORE: UK retail sales nosedive – data

“We believe the market would be further improved if there was a viable digital alternative to the card schemes,” the report said.

Joe Garner, who led the review, highlighted the complaints of merchants and retailers who said that they felt “trapped” within the current system. According to Garner, giving retailers the option to charge without using a card network would create a “healthier” market, especially as the use of cash is declining.

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