Safeway launches debit card program to avoid card processing fees

11983697-safeway-logoSafeway unveiled its combined debit and store loyalty card this week in order to pull money directly from customer bank accounts without paying a transaction processing fee.

Customers enrolled in the program will receive a Safeway Club Card that includes the Fast Forward debit feature. Customers who do not carry their Club Card will still be able to pay with Fast Forward debt using their phone number, which is linked to their loyalty card and a PIN number, San Francisco Business Times reports.

“This is a unique program,” Safeway spokeswoman Teena Massingill said, according to San Francisco Business Times . “It benefits our customers by offering a secure, convenient way to shop and allow them one card for payment, Club Card discounts and ‘Just for U’ discounts. All personal information is kept completely confidential.”

The Fast Forward debit card is currently only available in Sacramento, Calif., and the company will not discuss when the program could be expanded to other areas.

Each time a customer swipes their debit card, the store pays a fee to have the transaction processed by a network provider. If Safeway’s Fast Forward debit program achieves its purpose, it will mean reduced revenue for major credit card companies and banks. Debit cards are a key growth component for Visa and MasterCard, San Francisco Business Times reports.

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