Canada's finance minister Jim Flaherty is preparing to introduce a voluntary code of conduct covering the credit and debit card market as the country gets ready for US giants Visa and MasterCard to cross the border.
According to local press reports, the code of conduct is expected to be released within weeks following negotiations with industry players. One of the most controversial issues it is expected to tackle is priority routing of debit transactions over Visa's and MasterCard's networks.
Canada's non-profit national payments association Interac currently charges a flat interchange fee for processing payments over its network but it is about to face competition from Visa and MasterCard which are both looking to break into the country's market.
The association has been in talks with the country's competition bureau about becoming a for-profit organisation in a bid to fight off the US firms.
According to press reports, Visa plans to let customers choose at the point of sale whether their debit transaction runs over its network or Interac. Meanwhile MasterCard, says that if Maestro debit is on the merchant's terminal, the transaction will be priority routed over its network.
Consumer and retail groups have argued that this will freeze Interac out, leading to higher fees.
The code of conduct is also expected to cover the use of cards that have both debit and credit functions as well as improved transparency of rates and fees.
Meanwhile, Visa is planning to use the Winter Olympics in Vancouver as a set-piece showcase for its contactless debit card in Canada.
The firm, which is a major Games sponsor, has been signing up merchants in the Canadian Olympic village to adapt their terminals to accept PayWave transactions.
Jim Flaherty set to deal debit card set of rules - Toronto Star
Visa to unveil contactless debt card at games - Toronto Star