Malaysian petrol-station operators reportedly are again accepting credit cards after the government Tuesday increased their sales commissions to 12.19 sen (US40 cents) per liter of gasoline sold from 9.5 sen and to 7 sen per liter of diesel sold from 4.5 sen. The Petroleum Dealers Association of Malaysia previously had asked its approximately 3,500 members not to accept credit cards because of high interchange costs. The increase in sales commissions for operators will enable them to bear the interchange costs when accepting credit card transactions, Sunil Devmurari, a business development account manager with United Kingdom-based research company Euromonitor International, tells CardLine Global.  Petrol-station operators have to bear interchange costs of about 1% (of the sale amount), which has cut into already-declining profits," he says. "Petrol-station operators have been hit by the removal of fuel subsidies by the government, leading to lower business volumes as inflation hits disposable incomes of consumers in Malaysia." High fuel prices also have caused problems in the Philippines, where Sen. Francis Escudero has asked the three oil companies in the country (Petron Corp., Pilipinas Shell and Chevron Philippines) to issue prepaid cards to consumers using petrol stations in the country, according to a local report. "The benefit to consumers is that fuel prices will be locked during the validity period of these prepaid cards," Devmurari says. "Given the numerous hikes in retail fuel prices in the Philippines, within the context of price inflation this initiative would help support demand for fuel by consumers." However, the move may be risky for fuel companies, given the volatile outlook for oil prices into the medium term, Devmurari adds. The oil companies did not respond to CardLine Global requests for comment.

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