IFA President Eddie Downey has called for the excessive bank charges being imposed on farmers and agri-businesses for debit card transactions to be reduced.
Mr Downey stated, “While the recent Budget announced a reduction in the cost of electronic payment services through a reduction in the interchange fee cap, the move is totally insufficient. If banks and the government are serious about businesses moving to electronic payments, debit card transactions must be subject to a reasonable fixed fee instead of a percentage charge.”
Mr Downey added, “Over recent months, this issue has been repeatedly highlighted by farmers and the agri-trade and it is totally unacceptable that a percentage charge is being applied on debit card transactions. We need regulation that ensures a reasonable fixed fee on electronic payments. Farmers and merchants writing cheques pay a fixed transaction fee and there is no reason why the same should not apply for debit card transactions.”
Commenting on the use of cheques, IFA Farm Business Chairman Tom Doyle said, “For many farmers and small businesses, cheques remain a common and convenient form of payment, as many transactions are undertaken in an environment where electronic payment mechanisms are not available or easily accessible. Some older farmers are neither familiar nor comfortable with electronic payments. The increased charges attaching to cheques are adding to the cost of doing business and creating anxiety among farmers that cheques could be discontinued in the future. Farmers need reassurance from commercial banks that cheques will remain a valid payment mechanism and that they will be available at a reasonable cost”.
Mr Downey concluded, by adding that “We will be meeting the CEOs of the main commercial banks in the coming weeks and will be addressing the use and cost of different payment methods for farmers.”