The Costs of Point-of-Sale Payments in Canada
This study provides insight into the costs of cash, debit card and credit card payments made at the point of sale in Canada in 2014. For each payment method, it examines the total resource costs, which capture the overall use of resources by society as a whole. Using extensive survey data from retailers, financial institutions and cash transportation companies as well as internal and external data sources, the results show that the resource costs of payments in Canada are non-negligible (0.78 per cent of GDP). Credit cards are most costly in terms of resource costs per transaction, while cash carries the highest resource costs per dollar transacted. Debit cards are the least costly, both in terms of costs per transaction and costs per dollar in sales. The study also demonstrates how the costs vary with transaction sizes. Considering the variable resource costs only, cash is found to be cheapest for transactions up to $6, while debit cards are the least costly for transactions larger than $6. The study also looks into the total private costs, which are the costs incurred by each stakeholder, thereby providing insight into how costs are affecting the use and acceptance of payment methods.