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Small business associations team up and form coalition

Three associations representing small business have formed Small Business Matters to tackle credit card fees

More than 10 independent small business associations, including several from the grocery industry, have jumped on a statement in last week’s federal budget and have formed a new coalition to fight high credit card fees.

Federal Finance minister Jim Flaherty announced in last week’s federal budget that consultations will be held with stakeholders in the coming months to help lower credit card fees for merchants. “Canada has among the highest credit card acceptance fees in the world,” the budget noted.

Flaherty also noted that the Competition Tribunal found last year that Visa and Mastercard network rules have on adverse effect on competition, which results in higher costs to merchants.

READ: Retailers want fed action on credit card fees

Taking advantage of those statements, the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (CFIG), Canadian Convenience Store Association, the Canadian Independent Petroleum Marketers Association, the ADA in Quebec and others have formed Small Business Matters to press Flaherty on the issue.

“We would be remiss if we didn’t jump on (the issue)” and “make sure we’re delivering a clear message that (credit card fees) are hurting our members,” said Gary Sands, vice president of public policy at CFIG.

Sands said the new coalition wants to convey to Flaherty that the impact of credit card fees has a disproportionately higher impact on small business than on big business. “By joining together, our voice will be louder,” he says. “I can’t think of any more important issue to business than how they get paid.”

READ: No swiping this problem away

According to the coalition, credit card fees are eroding the already slim margins of independent business owners, jeopardizing their economic competitiveness and in some cases, their future in business.

When margins are 1.5% to 2% and are getting tighter, “this stuff comes right out of your bottom line” and is especially critical for independent retailers, Sands said. “This is Main St. not Bay St.”

The coalition will “raise awareness about the current payments landscape, and advocate for informed and education-based initiatives in an effort to drive change.”

Sands expects the number of members of the coalition to grow in the coming weeks. Although credit card fees are the catalyst, Sands believes the coalition will be ongoing.

The coalition will be making formal recommendations to government in the coming months.

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