November 11, 2008 In a competitive sales environment, merchants are compelled to offer consumers the option of paying for goods and services using a variety of payment methods, including cash, debit card, or credit card. Each method entails different costs and benefits to merchants. To better understand the costs of accepting retail payments, the Bank of Canada surveyed over 500 Canadian merchants and found that most consider cash the least costly. This article investigated this perception by calculating the variable costs per transaction of accepting different means of payment. The findings are that costs for each payment method vary by merchant and transaction value, with debit cards the least costly payment for a broad cross-section of merchants.
Using the results of a survey on accepted means of payment, the authors examine merchant preferences and perceptions of retail payment reliability, risk, and costs; the share of each type of payment method over total sales; and the costs involved in accepting payments.