Mastercard made the move first, then this week it was reported Visa was also increasing its fees for EU merchants selling to UK customers.
The hike is massive -rising from 0.2% for online credit card payments to 1.5% and from 0.2% to 1.15% for debit cards.
The pair are doing it because, according to Mastercard, the cap on fees negotiated with the EU no longer applies to UK customers.
For merchants, it is the latest in a long run of unpopular practices from the pair who have dominated the world of payments for decades.
Until recently, the duo had businesses over a barrel because there were no alternatives.
Even Apple Pay and PayPal run on the customer’s credit or debit card.
However, thanks to new rules from financial services regulators there are now real alternatives to Visa and Mastercard.
It is called “open banking”.
The concept is wide-ranging and has huge ramifications for the financial services industry, but for your business, the key point is that your customers can now authorise their money to be transferred to your account without using their bank cards.
A number of financial technology companies have set up to make that happen, and all claim to be a fraction of the cost to the merchant of credit and debit card alternatives.
That means you can either take that saving into your profit margin or, as some companies do, offer a discount to customers clicking the online banking option.
Here is a selection of services to show how it works.
Vyne is arguably the most specialised of the market’s players, solely set up to provide open banking payment services to merchants.
A start-up founded by payments executives from Worldpay, it operates in 27 markets.
Like its peers, it says shopping with Vyne is simpler than using a credit or debit card, and offers less scope for fraud.
The process is typical of how open banking can work for merchants and customers.
On the merchant’s purchasing page, alongside the option to pay by Mastercard, Visa or Paypal, they also offer “pay by bank transfer by Vyne”.
The shopper clicks on the Vyne option, selects which bank account they want to pay from and a mobile phone app opens, requiring face or fingerprint ID.
The purchase details appear, they click and the deal is done.
No annoying keying in credit card details or other time-consuming security features, or having to change the autofill every time you get a new card.
The average time to complete a transaction moves from minutes to seconds.
If that sounds like something your business could do with, how long does it take to get started with open banking?
According to Vyne, from integration to going live can take as little as four days.
Once live, for every payment taken through Vyne, money arrives within seconds instead of days, like alternative payment methods.
Based in Stockholm, Tink launched in 2012 to work with banks and payment processors on open banking long before it became a reality. It now has an open banking platform with big banks like BNP Paribas, NatWest and Klarna, and employs 400 people.
Its chief executive Daniel Kjellen tells the Evening Standard open banking is now at a “tipping point” where mobile phone technology and banking regulations are making it possible for open banking platforms to offer a smoother transaction experience than credit cards ever will.
Tink’s service for merchants runs in a similar way to Vyne and operates in 18 markets already.
It works with big corporates directly and smaller companies through their payment service providers. The best known PSPs are those like Adyen and Stripe, which you may already be using.
Tink says it partners with BNP Paribas, Lydia, Kivra, CGD and others.
Kjellen says SMEs wanting to add Tink to their payment options should contact their PSP.
A London company also helping banks launch open banking services, True Layer has worked with Revolut to bring open banking to Germany.
It has a service called PayDirect, which it claims is more reliable than paying with credit and debit cards, offering a failure rate of 3.5% compared with the average card failure rate of 15%.
It claims businesses can register customers in seconds.
According to TrueLayer, one in three customers choose the open banking payment option after trying it once.