The British Retail Consortium has again called for banks to lower the charges applied to card transactions – costing UK consumers £800m a year.

BRC director general Stephen Robertson made the call after new figures showed cash is now used for just a third of retail transactions, according to data in the body’s latest Annual Cost of Collection survey.

The survey polled 16,000 shops, ranging from small independents to the major multiples, with combined sales of £139bn.

“Reports of the death of cash are greatly exaggerated,” said BRC director general Robertson. “Despite the impression created by some banks, it’s the most popular way of paying and the cheapest for most retailers.

“But banks are pushing new cards and payment technologies hard – [which is] not surprising when they stand to make so much more in charges. Despite the recession, they are looking to maximise their profits and protect their own interests at the expense of customers who ultimately meet these costs.”

He added: “Retail is a highly competitive industry. If charges for every payment method were as low as they are for cash, over £800m of savings would be passed down to customers through the prices they pay. There should be a lower fixed fee per transaction which actually reflects the true cost of processing.”

Meanwhile, new data from APACS has revealed that ‘card not present’ fraud rose in the UK by 13% last year, up from £290.5m in 2007 to £328.40m in 2008.

It now accounts for more than half of all card fraud, having more than trebled in the past seven years.