A survey conducted at the recent ABTA Convention by First Data Merchant Solutions found higher security fees and cashflow are a continuing concern in the travel sector. With ATOL reform on the horizon the survey asked travel agents and tour operators about the issues they faced when accepting payments and their perceptions of acquirers in relation to the security fees they charge.

• 64% of respondents have seen a strong trend towards online payments, particularly those whose annual turnover sits between £1 – 10 million

• 48% indicated they had been asked to provide additional financial security to their acquirer

• Over half of respondents indicated that cashflow was an issue for their company

• 70% of respondents rated highly the need for a product or service to lower their risk exposure and reduce the amount of security required, freeing up cashflow for their business.

Tony Mooney, business development director at First Data Merchant Solutions, said: "Over the last two decades payments have increasingly moved to credit cards, which are not covered by the ATOL framework but the acquirer. This, coupled with dynamic packaging, has seen acquirer risk exposure increase significantly, which, as our survey illustrates, has led to travel agents and tour operators being asked for higher security fees.

"While the industry has been very vocal in its scepticism for ATOL reform, and there are still many issues to iron out, it could see a reduction in the cost of credit card transactions. By acquiring a Flight Plus licence risk exposure will be reduced for those heavily involved in dynamic packaging – decreasing the associated security fees and ultimately benefitting travel agents and tour operator's cashflow."

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