As consumers shift to digital payment methods, credit card fees are becoming unaffordable for small businesses

Ottawa, March 15, 2022 – Over three-quarters (78%) of business owners say that credit card processing fees are unaffordable for their business, according to a survey conducted by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). This is made worse by the pandemic-driven shift to digital payment methods and away from cash.

“The cost of doing business is at an all-time high, and small businesses are finding it more and more difficult to deal with accumulating credit card fees as consumers shift away from cash payments due to the growth of e-commerce and even for small, in-store purchases,” said Corinne Pohlmann, Senior Vice-President of National Affairs at CFIB. 

Change in small business payment options throughout the pandemic 

  • 92% of businesses now accept debit/credit cards as payment 
  • 55% started accepting or increased their acceptance of contactless debit or credit payment methods
  •  33% started accepting or increased their acceptance of online/e-commerce payment methods
  • 53% decreased or stopped accepting cash as payment 

“While credit card processing fees for some in-store transactions have come down in recent years, this has been more than offset by the massive growth in higher costs for e-commerce transactions and the shift away from cash during the pandemic,”  added Dan Kelly, CFIB president. 

Small businesses are also less likely to have dedicated experts to manage their financial matters. More than half (54%) of businesses have difficulty in understanding their contract with their payment processor and 41% are unsure of their pricing model. Processors are not obliged to use consistent verbiage or display information in the same way, making understanding and comparing statements or contracts more complex than necessary for merchants. 

CFIB is urging both the federal government and the payments industry to help small business owners by: 

  • Lowering the average overall cost of credit card fees and ensuring that small merchants benefit from similar pricing as larger ones as promised by government in the 2021 federal budget.
  • Simplifying contracts and monthly statements by having different credit card processors use consistent wording and format.   
  • Creating an independent dispute resolution process for merchants who have issues with their payments. 
  • Eliminating credit card processing fees on sales tax (HST/GST/PST). 

“Consumer preferences are leading more businesses to adopt digital payment methods, but many of them come with significant processing fees. Some of these costs will inevitably be passed down to consumers, but businesses also worry about pricing themselves out of their markets. As we start to come out of the pandemic, the payment services industry and government have an opportunity to do the right thing and address the unique needs of small businesses by finding ways to level the playing field and lower processing fees,” concluded Pohlmann. 

For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:
Milena Stanoeva, CFIB

About CFIB
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 95,000 members across every industry and region. CFIB is dedicated to increasing business owners’ chances of success by driving policy change at all levels of government, providing expert advice and tools, and negotiating exclusive savings. Learn more at