A Charter for Payment Choice

Posted on: 27/02/2019

The public EVERYWHERE have a right to expect Payment Choice, the right for every individual to use the payment method that they choose.

To allow Payment Choice to be limited by commercial enterprises or governments would erode personal freedoms, as well as being detrimental to the economic interests of society as a whole.

Around Europe and elsewhere, we can already see limitations on Payment Choice beginning to appear, with shops and restaurants refusing to accept forms of payment which, in some cases, have been established for centuries. This is unacceptable. Narrow commercial considerations cannot be allowed to prevail over the Public Interest.

The fight-back against the sabotage of Payment Choice has already begun.

For example, in 2018 the Peoples Bank of China ruled that it is illegal for businesses to refuse to except cash.

Even more recently, local governments in the United States have started to pass laws banning cashless shops and restaurants. Notably, in February 2019 the New Jersey legislature approved such a ban by 70 votes to 2. In political terms, that is an incredible consensus.

Perhaps the reaction in the United States is so strong because Visa openly offered to pay restaurants $10,000 to refuse to accept cash. 

Some hope, I believe naively, that commercial interests can be "persuaded" to respect Payment Choice without the need to resort to legal protections. 


We cannot procrastinate. Each passing day sees Payment Choice under increasing threat.

Affirmative actions, not simply fine words, are required NOW.

To this end, Debbie Smyth and I, two financial services professionals with over 50 years experience between us, have developed A Charter for Payment Choice.

This Charter, covering six crucial issues, details legal requirements that need to be put in place to safeguard Payment Choice. In essence,  the Charter focuses on Acceptance and Access. Get those matters right and any threat to Payment Choice will be removed. 

                                    A Charter for Payment Choice

1. Businesses which accept in-person payments (including through vending machines) will be required to accept any payment method which accounts for more than 5% (by number not value) of the total annual in-person payments in the nation in which the payment is made. Any business that does so, and, in addition, provides full transparency of all charges related to those payments, shall be eligible to apply for a CE Mark* (or equivalent) by the relevant national regulator.

2. Businesses shall be required to make clear at point of sale the transaction limits that apply to each payment method.  For avoidance of doubt, it shall be a legal requirement to accept all payments methods up to a limit of €100 or the equivalent.  This limit may be varied, upwards-only, by national regulators to meet market conditions.

3. All business-to-business fees relating to payments shall be set by each nation each year, based on a transparent cost-based methodology.

4. Any direct charges made in connection with in-person payments are to be fully transparent and subject to the specific approval by the customer prior to the completion of the transaction.

5. All bank branches shall be required to provide access to deposit and withdrawal facilities for cash, both notes and coins. 

6. Every nation shall require the development and adoption by all Card Issuers of a Universal Cash Deposit Transaction, for both notes and coins, allowing members of the public and businesses access to deposit facilities at any bank branch or at any machine equipped with cash deposit functionality. Universal deposit is to be made into a bank account, with maximum individual transaction and daily limits to be set to meet reasonable national Anti-Money Laundering requirements.

So that is the Charter.

Now the work begins to get it implemented EVERYWHERE.

Luckily, Debbie Smyth and I have inexhaustible reserves of energy!


*CE marking is a certification mark that indicates conformity with health, safety, and environmental protection standards for products sold within the European Economic Area.

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