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A customer runs a MasterCard debit card through a machine while checking-out at a shop Monday, Nov. 2, 2009, in Seattle. MasterCard Inc. said Tuesday its third-quarter profit was bolstered by continued cost-cutting measures and an increase in the number of transactions it processed. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)Elaine Thompson/The Associated Press

The organization representing most of Canada's small- and medium-sized businesses says MasterCard Canada plans to follow Visa's lead and increase transaction fees for small merchants this summer. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business says the credit card company plans a 20-per-cent increase in its assessment fee to 7.7 basis points on July 1.

"CFIB is very disappointed that MasterCard is choosing to increase its fees at a time when small firms are struggling with an uncertain economy," said Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) president and CEO Dan Kelly. "While MasterCard is raising fees by a smaller amount than Visa, it is particularly surprising that both major card brands are increasing their fees just before Canada's Competition Tribunal is expected to rule on its case against the two card giants."

A decision from the Competition Tribunal could allow merchants to add surcharges for accepting credit cards, or allow merchants to refuse to accept certain higher cost cards. While MasterCard has promised two small fee reductions in the fall, MasterCard already offers an "uber-premium" card - a move Visa has recently promised to follow.

"Unfortunately, the only competition between Visa and MasterCard is to see who can raise prices the most for merchants and consumers and deliver the highest fees for Canada's banks," Mr. Kelly noted.

CFIB reminds consumers that paying with Interac, debit or cash is one small way they can help small businesses. In addition, merchants can find special signage to promote paying with Interac or cash at

"CFIB will continue its work as the watchdog of the credit card industry in Canada and press for further changes to the Code of Conduct to help merchants push back against unfair fees and practices," said Mr. Kelly. "Small business owners are calling on MasterCard to reconsider its plans to hit them with higher fees when many entrepreneurs simply can't afford to pay more."

The CFIB is Canada's largest association of small- and medium-sized businesses.

With staff files

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