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    Electronic payment fees are of the past

    © Belga
    © Belga

    As of today, businesses can no long longer charge fees for electronic payment, might it be with a bank card, by transfer or by direct payment. The ban is also valid for small amounts and purchases on the internet. Until now, businesses could impute fees when a client paid with a bank card. The law stipulated, however, that these fees were not to exceed those that fell to the company due to the use of a payment instrument. In any event, this system belongs to the past.

    As a matter of fact, from now on, no fee for a transaction by debit card (Bancontact, Maestro, V-pay) or credit card (Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Diner’s Club…) may be passed on to the consumer. Likewise, added cost for transfers and direct payments within the SEPA zone (European Union plus some other countries such as Iceland, Norway and Switzerland) may no longer be billed by the merchant.

    This new legislation results from the transposition of a European directive into Belgian law, the aim of which is to encourage electronic payment. This payment mode brings “much greater security, because it reduces the circulation of cash’’ and what is more, it facilitates the battle against tax evasion, insisted the Minister for Economy, Kris Peeters.

    The ban on billing consumer fees for electronic payment will apply to purchases both in a store or on the internet. Administrative fees that are often requested for on line purchasing, especially for tickets for events, may still be requested from the consumer, on the condition that he receives all precise information on what the fees cover.

    Under the new law, the merchants are still allowed to refuse or to limit payment by a bank card up to a certain amount but must clearly inform the consumer. They must not, however, refuse payment by cash to the advantage of card payment.

    In addition, a merchant will still be allowed to encourage electronic payment by granting reduced prices to the consumer choosing this mode.

    Oscar Schneider
    The Brussels Times