HSBC’s move to transfer its Maestro customers to Visa debit cards could cost UK retailers millions, says the British Retail Consortium.

The BRC has today written a letter to the chief executives of the UK’s major retailers warning of the impact this decision will have. HSBC is due to start transferring customers at the end of the year.

The fee retailers will have to pay for transactions on the Visa debit cards is 34 per cent higher than that for the same Maestro transaction. BRC director-general Stephen Robertson has criticised the bank for piling extra costs onto businesses at a time when many are struggling through a difficult economic climate.

Robertson said in the letter: "While we welcome any new developments in the card industry that provide genuine benefits for retailers and our customers, the BRC is aware that this migration will also result in a significant increase in the card interchange fees paid by retailers.”