Australian consumers are overwhelmingly in favour of small businesses being given the ability to choose the cheapest option to process debit card payments through Least Cost Routing (LCR), new research reveals.

The eftpos survey found that more than 8 in 10 (83%) of respondents think it’s important for merchants to be able to select the lowest cost network, a figure that highlights growing public awareness and concern over business costs in the COVID environment.

“The research shows that Australians clearly recognise and identify with the pressures small businesses face, and the importance of keeping their costs down,” eftpos CEO Stephen Benton said.

The cost of debit card fees is now critical to small business because they have replaced cash as by far the most common way to pay in Australia, representing nearly nine billion and almost 70% of total electronic retail transactions annually.

The new research shows an eight-point rise since the previous survey three years ago, a jump that demonstrates that consumer support for Least Cost Routing (LCR) has moved up the agenda for everyday shoppers and gained their widespread support.

It also suggests that consumers are increasingly understanding the potential economic benefits to be gained from LCR, with almost half (45%) of consumers stating that merchants were likely to pass on any fee savings to their customers, up 12 points since the last survey.

When asked about which payments network Australians would prefer to process their online or tap debit card transactions, two-thirds (66%) of consumers have no preference in network or would prefer to use the low-cost Australian eftpos network, rather than international schemes.