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Retailers cannot impose surcharge for card payments according to Bank Negara

If you’re tired of being forced to pay a surcharge when you use your credit or debit card for payments, there’s good news. Bank Negara Malaysia has finally decreed that retailers cannot impose surcharges for payments using debit and credit cards.

In a report by The Star, not only are retailers not allowed to impose the, usually 2%-3%, surcharge but Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) also encourages consumers who encounter such merchants to lodge a complaint with their respective banks or payment card issuers.

This statement comes as a response to an article calling for these surcharges to be abolished. According to BNM, one of the reasons retailers impose this surcharge is to recover some of the costs incurred when accepting these forms of payment.

The transaction fee, known as the merchant discount rate (MDR), is often higher for a credit card than a debit card according to BNM.

While it’s understandable that retailers would want to reduce such costs, it is also a burden to the consumer especially when making large payments for goods like smartphones. Short of handcuffing a briefcase stuffed with cash to your wrist, there’s really no other convenient method — not to mention safe — of making these payments without the use of a card. Especially considering how limited mobile payments are currently.

According to The Star’s report, BNM has introduced measures like the Payment Card Reform Framework and Interoperable Credit Transfer Framework to reduce the cost for retailers.

While I’m sure many consumers will be happy about BNM finally putting their foot down, we’re not sure if this also applies to things like AirAsia’s processing fee. Then there’s also the concern of merchants only accepting card payments if consumers spend above a certain amount.

We have reached out to Bank Negara Malaysia and will update this article when they respond.