Walmart vs. Visa fight has real life consequences for students

Sulaiman Akbari

BIZ/TECH REPORTER

The one-stop store for all essential needs just became less convenient.

Walmart Canada stopped accepting Visa credit cards in 16 stores in Manitoba last month. The company stopped accepting the card at its Thunder Bay stores in July. Eventually, all its stores in Canada will stop accepting Visa, as Walmart claims the transaction fees — 1.5 per cent of the sale value — are too high.

Third-year Humber College Business Management student Kevin Kurian, 21, said if Walmart refuses to accept Visa it will create problems for him.

“When I shop at Walmart, I go to buy a lot of items and I use Visa to buy those items,” Kurian said. “With Visa being gone, it will make me pay with cash or use debit.”

Kurian says he and other students use Visa because they rarely have cash on them, making Visa a convenient way to pay for items.

“As students, we depend on our credit cards to pay our expenses,” he said. “With students, it all comes down to debit or credit.”

Kurian said if Walmart takes away Visa then they would have to resort to other retailers where the prices may not be as low as Walmart’s.

Humber coordinator of the Marketing diploma program, Christine McCaw said Walmart’s decision to cut Visa will have an impact on Canadians who use Visa for points.

“Walmart being one of the largest retailers in Canada and stopping the partnership with Visa will create a downstream impact for those who carry a Visa card for points,” McCaw said.

“I think that there is going to be a change in consumer behavior,” McCaw said. “Maybe Walmart will start to lose some customers as they will go to other places where Visa is accepted.”

Walmart’s decision to cut Visa because of high charging fees may also create a negative impact on top of losing customers.

“As consumers look and say ‘you make billions of dollars every single year and now you’re trying to cut costs?’” McCaw said of the U.S. $35-billion retailer, adding she wouldn’t be surprised if consumers shop at other retailers where they accept Visa to get their reward points.

First-year Humber College electrical engineering student Jommel Tang-o, 19, said shopping at Walmart with no Visa will impact him slightly.

“If I shop at Walmart to use my Visa, I am shopping for TV’s, game systems, hardware products and so on,” Tang-o said. “Basically the more expensive items I buy is when I use my Visa.”

Tang-o said he doesn’t think the inability to use Visa will impact students who shop more lightly.

“It shouldn’t impact students who buy few items but it may impact those who are young adults to seniors who do regular shopping at Walmart,” he said

Tang-o and Kurian both agree it all depends on what Walmart has that other retailers don’t if they need to use Visa.

McCaw said she thinks the way for both sides to renegotiate a deal is to keep it away from the public realm and as a private deal.

Visa Canada President Rob Livingston said in June that Walmart launched a public fight and is “unfairly dragging millions of Canadian consumers into the middle of a business disagreement that can and should be resolved between our companies.”

He said Visa is worried about how Walmart’s decision will affect consumers.

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