SEOUL, Oct. 5 (Korea Bizwire) — Merchants in North Jeolla Province are struggling under the burden of interchange fees, according to a recent survey conducted by the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU).
Queried on the business expense that needs to be addressed most urgently, 59.3 percent of the respondents chose interchange fees.
That is more than half of the 39 respondents who own small stores with fewer than 10 employees. Taxes (20.3 percent), rent (18.6 percent), and franchise fees (1.7 percent) followed.
The survey also showed that interchange fees are as burdensome as payroll costs. At 33.8 percent and 36.3 percent, respectively, interchange fees and payroll costs were the two biggest financial burdens on small businesses.
Rent (25 percent) and purchasing expenses (2.5 percent) followed suit.
Yu Ki-man, the KCTU’s North Jeolla Province branch secretary, pushed for a reduction in interchange fees as he announced the survey results last Thursday at a conference held at the Jeonbuk Provincial Assembly.
Yu stressed that interchange costs have been increasing exponentially as more and more customers are using cards rather than paying in cash.
A Bank of Korea report showed that payments in cash went down from 37.7 percent in 2014 to 26 percent in 2016.
Yu also noted that the “higher minimum wage is hurting merchants, but there is also the rising cost of rent and interchange fees that we need to address,” stressing that small businesses will fail unless “large conglomerates lower interchange fees and the government implements rent controls.”
H. M. Kang (firstname.lastname@example.org)