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Investors Breathe Sigh of Relief Over Amazon-Visa Issue

Amazon will keep accepting UK-issued Visa cards, Jan. 19 deadline postponed

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Jan 18, 2022
Summary
  • Disagreement over fees is the core issue
  • Executives meeting to hammer out ‘potential solution’
  • Amazon promises advance notice if talks break down
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E-commerce giant Amazon.com Inc. (

AMZN, Financial) said yesterday that it will not stop accepting U.K.-issued Visa Inc. (V, Financial) credit cards on its British website later this month, as it had previously declared. Instead, executives said that they are working with Visa to resolve the dispute over payment fees that originally caused Amazon's high-handed ultimatum.

According to reports, Amazon's U.K. Visa card ban was originally scheduled to go into place on Wednesday, Jan. 19. The date was pushed back as executives of the two companies hunkered down to hammer out a “potential solution” to the disagreement over fees.

“The expected change regarding the use of Visa credit cards on Amazon.co.uk will no longer take place on January 19. We are working closely with Visa on a potential solution that will enable customers to continue using their Visa credit cards on Amazon.co.uk.,” Amazon said in an email blast to customers.

The step would have had a strong impact on customers of both Barclays (

LSE:BARC, Financial) and HSBC Holdings (LSE:HSBA, Financial), two of the banks that issue Visa credit cards in the U.K.

Amazon did not agree never to curb Visa card use in the future, but instead assured consumers that it will provide warning in advance before changes are made. In a statement, management said: “Should we make any changes related to Visa credit cards, we will give you advance notice. Until then, you can continue to use Visa credit cards, debit cards, Mastercard (

MA, Financial), American Express (AXP, Financial), and Eurocard as you do today.”

Amazon had said back in November that it would no longer accept credit cards that were issued in the United Kingdom because of transaction fees. A European Union-enforced cap on fees charged by card issuers is no longer in place in the United Kingdom following Brexit. While Britain was still part of the EU, purchases were protected by an EU-wide transaction cost cap, but now that cap is no longer in place, tensions have begun to arise as card issuers try to raise their fees. Companies would have to either absorb those extra fees themselves, or raise prices for customers, which Amazon finds unacceptable.

In an earlier email message distributed to users in the United Kingdom late in 2021, Amazon “had blamed high payment fees charged by Visa for credit card transactions for ending support for Visa payments — warning Brits to make alternative arrangements for paying for their purchases on Amazon.co.uk,” noted TechCrunch. “Its very public mass email had looked like an attempt to leverage its market power to extract better terms from Visa. Whether that worked to convince Visa to reduce its credit card fees or whether Amazon has just decided to step back from the brink of causing major disruption to UK shoppers is unclear. If the latter, Amazon had already caused UK users who rely on Visa-based payment methods months of uncertainty over whether they would be able to continue making purchases on its site in the near future.”

“The issue has popped up in other countries, too,” noted The Hill. “Last year Amazon started charging customers in Australia and Singapore a 0.5 percent surcharge for using Visa credit cards, according to The Associated Press.”

A Visa spokesperson commented yesterday that Amazon customers “can continue to use Visa cards on Amazon.co.uk after January 19 while we work closely together to reach an agreement." Visa executives said in November that it was "very disappointed that Amazon was threatening to restrict consumer choice."

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