COVID19 virus

COVID19 – cost relief from merchant service providers

COVID19 and the resulting lockdown is severely impacting many small UK businesses.  Pubs, restaurants, gymns, hairdressers and many other “non-essential” businesses are unable to trade and are earning no income.  But that doesn’t stop their costs mounting up and business owners are desperately looking for ways to trim those costs to stay in business for when the lockdown ends and business can begin again.

 

Merchant Services fixed costs

Fortunately merchant services (card processing costs) are largely a variable costs and as closed businesses arn’t processing any card transactions then there are no card transaction fees (MSC) arising.  But there are other costs, fixed costs which arise whether you process no transactions or a million transactions.  For smaller / micro businesses these fixed costs can be significant.  They include :

  • MMSC (minimum monthly service charges) of around £10 – £25 per month
  • Terminal hire fees of £12 – £25 per month
  • PCI costs (£3 – £5 per month)

Cumulatively these costs amount to £25 – £55 per month which is fairly material to smaller businesses with no income.

 

Help from Merchant Service Providers

Like many industries, merchant service providers are keen to help their customers in these difficult times.  Call it altruism or the realisation that without a lot of financial assistance their customers won’t be around in the future to pay their fees.  So whats on offer :

  No MMSCNo PCI feesNo refund feesTerminal rental deferred
Lloyds Cardnet
First Data
Elavon
Global Payments
Worldpay/FIS
Barclaycard
First Payments
Card Cutters
PaymentSense

 

Whats interesting is whilst some providers like Lloyds Cardnet have pro-actively written to all merchants automatically offering support, other providers are only providing support to those merchants who contact them requesting support.  So the lesson is even if your provider is being coy about what support is on offer or there seems to be very little indicated in their public statements, it may still be worthwhile getting in touch with them to discuss your own circumstances.  Generally all providers should be willing to waive MMSC as there is no cost to them in doing so.  Its a shame though that some providers are making merchants do all the work rather than offering support freely.

The time period of support also varies by provider.  Lloyds Cardnet’s support runs for 3 months until 30 June whilst WorldPay’s MMSC waiver is only for the month of April.

Its also important to note that those providers offering relief on terminal rental costs are doing so by way of deferral, not waiver.  So your normal terminal rental fee is still payable but deferred for several months or in the case of First Payments until the end of your contract’s minimum term.  The deferral is also contingent upon merchant’s leaving their direct debit in place, so do contact your provider before you contemplate cancelling this.

 

Key Message

The level of support available does vary wildly across the industry and it may not be obvious what specific support your provider is willing to provide.

All merchants affected by the coronavirus should contact their provider directly to request assistance.  Every penny counts in these difficult times and unfortunately it may be a case of if you don’t ask, you don’t get

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