The majority of fuel stations nationwide have reportedly stopped accepting credit/debit card payment methods. Commercial banks charge a merchant discount rate (MDR) of 1.5 percent. The only payment method consumers are left with is a cash payment for petrol and diesel purchase.
A top official of oil marketing companies (OMCs) told the News, “Banks are getting Rs3.45 in the shape of MDR from our margin of Rs3.68 on one liter of petrol and diesel. When a consumer purchases them through credit or debit cards and this is how the margin gets squeezed to just Rs 0.23 per liter making the financial health of OMCs more vulnerable”.
The annual sale numbers of motors gasoline and diesel show that the country has used up 20 billion liters. Out of which 400 million liters were sold through credit and debit cards, and if the average price of petrol and diesel was assumed to be Rs. 230 per liter. The value of bank card sales came to Rs. 92 billion per year.
Moreover, banks charge 1.5 percent MDR on one liter and earn Rs. 1.38 billion in MDR, not from consumers but from OMC margins. The OMCs’ annual profit margin on bank card sales is Rs. 1,472 billion, of which Rs. 1.38 billion goes to banks, leaving a net margin of Rs. 92 million. This is why OMCs cannot continue to sell fuel via credit or debit cards.
“The oil industry realizes the importance of enhancing the digital payment infrastructure of the country. However, the current level of MDR being charged on fuel transactions is not sustainable for the industry”.
Additionally, on 22 August 2022, the oil companies’ advisory council (OCAS) wrote a letter to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) on behalf of the OMCs. To raise the issue of banks charging higher MDR.
In the letter, the OCAC built a case for the OMCs and sought a review of the MDR rate of 1.5 percent on fuel purchases made with credit or debit cards. Contending that while the MDR various across the industry, banks charge an average of 1.5 percent at petrol pumps across the country. And the cost is borne by the OMCs and their dealers (petrol pump owners and operators).
Furthermore, keeping in view the high turnover of fuel and in order to facilitate customers while not burdening OMCs and delaers. The OCAC’s recommendation to the SBP governor is that MDR on fuel purchased must be capped at 0.3 percent.