Thursday, July 9, 2009

MasterCard welcomes rejection of price controls, support of debit competition

Toronto, July 1, 2009 -- MasterCard Canada welcomes today's decision by the Senate Standing Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce to reject retail lobbyists' calls for price regulation on credit card payment systems-an approach that would have resulted in consumers' paying the price for merchants' credit card acceptance.

MasterCard also welcomes the Committee's support of competition in Canadian debit. Both recommendations will serve the best interests of consumers and merchants.

"The Senate Committee clearly recognized that price controls are inappropriate and would harm consumers," said Kevin Stanton, president, MasterCard Canada. "Australia continues to provide an excellent example of how such price controls reduce consumer credit card program benefits, and result in no appreciable decrease in the price of goods and services."

When Australia regulated the fees merchants pay for credit card acceptance in 2003, retailers simply pocketed the windfall. Other consequences of these price controls included:

  • Consumers' credit card fees and interest rates went up;
  • Some credit card issuers had to stop doing business, so competition and consumer choice was reduced;
  • Merchants charged consumers extra for using credit and debit cards, even though merchants' fees went down; and
  • Consumers' credit card benefits and rewards had to be reduced or disappeared entirely.

MasterCard also applauds the Senate Committee for recognizing the benefits to consumers and merchants of introducing competition in the Canadian debit market.

The Senate's recommendation of a flat-fee pricing model aligns with how MasterCard's Maestro debit product is already priced.

"MasterCard's Maestro debit solution is flat-fee based and is less expensive to merchants than Interac and will provide significant benefits for consumers, not the least of which is the ability to pay by debit in countries around the world," said Stanton. "It is time for a new era in Canadian debit."

MasterCard cautions that some other Committee recommendations will result in unintended negative consequences for consumers and small merchants in particular.

The recommendation on surcharging-allowing merchants to charge consumers extra for purchases made on a credit or debit card-essentially asks consumers to bear the merchant's operational costs, and could lead to the type of opportunistic surcharging being levied by merchants at the point of sale in Australia.

Similarly, the Committee's recommendation on honour-all-cards practices will create risk, confusion, delay and difficulty for both consumers and merchants at the point-of-sale.

"Consumers expect to be able to pay with their card of choice wherever the brand is displayed," Stanton said. "Arbitrary acceptance by merchants will create significant risk, unpredictability and confusion at the point-of-sale for both retail staff and consumers, and could lead to the possibility that some credit cardholders will be unable to pay for their purchases."

The recommendation on priority routing of debit payments will take the technical routing decision out of the hands of the parties-merchants and issuing banks-paying for the transaction. Specifically, the Senate's recommendations on priority routing will favour the incumbent debit monopolist and will in effect reduce competition in debit. It will also inject the very operational complications and costs the retail lobby was seeking to avoid in a competitive debit market. It will also result in no benefits and unnecessary confusion for consumers, who do not pay for debit transactions.

MasterCard Canada appreciates the opportunity provided by the Senate committee to participate in the comprehensive examination of Canada's credit and debit payments system and recognizes it has a role to play in promoting greater transparency and education to Canadian merchants. It has a number of initiatives underway to meet this need, including developing model disclosures, and small merchant education materials.

About MasterCard Worldwide

MasterCard Worldwide advances global commerce by providing a critical economic link among financial institutions, businesses, cardholders and merchants worldwide. As a franchisor, processor and advisor, MasterCard develops and markets payment solutions, processes approximately 21 billion transactions each year, and provides industry-leading analysis and consulting services to financial institution customers and merchants. Through its family of brands, including MasterCard(R), Maestro(R) and Cirrus(R), MasterCard serves consumers and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. For more information go to .

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Half a million Canadians are delinquent - Equifax Canada data reveals 19% jump

TORONTO, July 3 /CNW/ - Equifax Canada today released the latest
consumer credit delinquency data which shows that Canadians continue
to fall behind on their credit payments at an ever-increasing rate.
The average delinquency rate for Canada rose by approximately 19% over
a one-year span from May 31, 2008 to May 31, 2009. In April, the same
rate was increasing at 13%. The average delinquency rate for all of
Canada as of May 31, 2009 was 1.52%. This means that over a half a
million Canadians are now more than 90 days behind on their credit

Provincially, Nova Scotia had the highest average delinquency rate in
May at 2.07% and Saskatchewan had the lowest rate at 1.22%. Ontario's
rate was 1.74%.

Equifax Canada defines delinquent accounts as credit facilities that
have not received a payment for at least 90 days. The average
delinquency rate is calculated by comparing the number of delinquent
credit facilities to the total number of credit facilities. Equifax
Canada's experienced team of consultants and analysts compute
delinquency rates by analyzing data from Canadian lenders who report
to it on a daily basis.

Delinquencies - Their Alarming Rise

On a yearly basis, the average delinquency rates have been rising
dramatically in Alberta (26%) and British Columbia (27%), and, on the
east coast, Prince Edward Island experienced a 26% increase. The
national yearly average rate of increase is 18.8%.

It is important to note that these provinces continue to have average
delinquency rates that are lower than the national average with
British Columbia at 1.31% and Alberta at 1.42%. In Prince Edward
Island (2.05%), however, average delinquency rates were higher than
the national rate.

Calgary sees sharpest jump

Urban areas experienced some of the largest jumps in delinquency
rates. Five out of the ten cities monitored by Equifax Canada have
annual increases in delinquency rates that are higher than the
national average:

May 2009 Year over Year

Delinquency Rate Increase (%)
---------------- ------------
Calgary 1.32% 29%
Montreal 1.41% 18%
Vancouver 1.18% 22%
Quebec City 0.83% 17%
Edmonton 1.40% 23%
London 1.66% 20%
Hamilton 1.70% 20%
Toronto 1.98% 14%
Canada 1.52% 19%

With the exception of Quebec City, all provinces and cities monitored
by Equifax Canada from April 2009 to May 2009 experienced an increase
in their average delinquency rate.

Toronto continues to have the highest delinquency rate at 1.98%, even
though its yearly increase rate is 14.45%, which is below the national

"While we have seen delinquencies increase steadily since the
beginning of the year, the rate of increase in the past 3 months has
been significantly higher," said Nadim Abdo, Vice President of Equifax
Canada Consulting Solutions. "The sharpest increase has resulted from
Credit Card and Sales Finance purchases, which have increased by 38%
and 58%, respectively, since May 2008. Such transactions typically
represent the purchase of durable goods, such as furniture or
electronics, and consumers appear to be willing to fall behind on them
first before they miss payments on their Bank Loans and Lines of

This is another in a series of news releases that will feature Equifax
Canada's financial and demographic data, which can help businesses
target opportunities and make informed decisions. If you would like to
find out how Equifax Canada can use their unique insights to help you
make better decisions for your business, please contact us at
1-800-278-0278 or visit our website at

About Equifax Inc. (

Equifax empowers businesses and consumers with information they can
trust. A global leader in information solutions, we leverage one of
the largest sources of consumer and commercial data, along with
advanced analytics and proprietary technology, to create customized
insights that enrich both the performance of businesses and the lives
of consumers.

Customers have trusted Equifax for over 100 years to deliver
innovative solutions with the highest integrity and reliability.
Businesses - large and small - rely on us for consumer and business
credit intelligence, portfolio management, fraud detection,
decisioning technology, marketing tools, and much more. We empower
individual consumers to manage their personal credit information,
protect their identity, and maximize their financial well-being.

Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, Equifax Inc. operates throughout
the U.S., Canada and 13 other countries in North America, Latin
America, and Europe. Equifax is a member of Standard & Poor's (S&P)
500 Index. Our common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange
under the symbol EFX.

For further information: Craig Hillyer, AVP, Product Management &
Innovation, at (416) 227-5290 or visit our website at

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The Frontier Times: Canada's Payments Journal
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SecureKey Technologies Inc. Wins ACT Canada 2009 Canadian Innovation Award

TORONTO, June 23 /CNW/ - SecureKey Technologies Inc., a provider of
next generation authentication solutions, has been awarded the ACT
Canada 2009 Canadian Innovation Award in Banking and Finance.

"It is extremely gratifying to be recognized by ACT Canada given the
organization's 20 year history of promoting the awareness,
understanding and use of advanced card technologies" says Greg
Wolfond, Chairman and CEO of SecureKey.

SecureKey's solution enables online service providers to accept
contactless cards or NFC devices as a second factor of authentication
by their customers to increase the security and convenience of
transacting online.

"The ability to leverage all forms of CHIP cards carried by customers
as a strong second factor of authentication will significantly thwart
online fraud. This is the most innovative solution I've seen in a long
time" says Catherine Johnston, President and CEO of ACT Canada.

While contactless technology was initially implemented in credit and
debit cards to facilitate small, in-person retail purchases,
SecureKey's solution leverages these same cards to provide stronger
authentication for online financial services, online payments and
network access.

About SecureKey Technologies Inc.

SecureKey Technologies Inc. is a privately held company based in
Toronto, Canada. SecureKey's innovative, patent-pending authentication
technology enables service providers to enhance their clients' online
experience while seamlessly increasing security and reducing fraud.

About ACT Canada

ACT Canada is the stakeholder association, focussed on secure payment,
secure identity management and other advanced applications. Now in
their 20th year, they are the authority on the Canadian market,
supporting members through working with key stakeholders.

ACT Canada helps members understand the market, public and private
sector applications and potential barriers. They facilitate knowledge
transfer and thought leadership through a neutral forum, while
expanding members' networks. Founded in 1989, ACT Canada is a
non-profit membership association.

For further information: Greg Wolfond,, (416) 226-4220

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The Frontier Times: Canada's Payments Journal
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Montreal, Quebec, Canada H4A1E1

Minister of Finance Launches Task Force on Financial Literacy

Toronto, June 26, 2009 - The Honourable Jim Flaherty, Minister of
Finance, today announced the establishment of Canada's Task Force on
Financial Literacy to help create a cohesive national strategy to
support initiatives across Canada aimed at improving financial

"Our economy is built on millions of everyday financial decisions by
Canadians," said Minister Flaherty. "Recent events have shown us that
there are major risks and that financial literacy is an important life
skill. Whether it is a question of saving for retirement, financing a
new home or balancing the family chequebook, improving the financial
literacy of Canadians will add to the stability of our financial
system and make our economy stronger."

The task force fulfills a commitment made in Canada's Economic Action
Plan to outline objectives, including a concrete plan of action and a
framework for collaboration among stakeholders, for moving forward and
measuring progress on financial literacy in Canada. Members of the
task force are drawn from the business and education sectors,
community organizations and academia. The task force will be chaired
by Donald A. Stewart, Chief Executive Officer of Sun Life Financial
Inc. L. Jacques Ménard, Chairman of BMO Nesbitt Burns, will be the

"I am honoured to undertake this role and I look forward to working
with such a strong and diverse task force to carry out our ambitious
mandate," said Mr. Stewart. "Valuable insights can be found
internationally and I hope to bring that perspective forward to help
Canadians make informed decisions to improve their lives."

"A great deal of fine work is going on across Canada on financial
literacy, be it in schools, in volunteer groups, through provincial
programs or through the federal Financial Consumer Agency of Canada,"
said Minister Flaherty. "This task force will develop a strategic plan
to build on this collective effort to help make all Canadians more
knowledgeable consumers, investors and savers."

Minister Flaherty said the task force complements other elements in
Canada's Economic Action Plan to strengthen consumer protection, such
as the recently announced improvements to credit card regulations,
which included improved disclosure of interest rate changes.

For more information on Canada's Economic Action Plan, visit

Biographical notes are attached.

The Frontier Times: Canada's Payments Journal
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Montreal, Quebec, Canada H4A1E1
514-842-0886 Unveils Free Merchant Network

CALGARY, June 30 /CNW/ - announced today the launch of
the world's largest online Merchant Network. The Shopster Merchant
Network is a one-stop shop for online sellers and suppliers to manage
all aspects of their business. Users of the network are empowered with
tools to manage their buying and selling relationships. In an industry
first, it is free to join.

" is introducing social networking for your products,"
says Sarath Samarasekera, CEO and co-founder of "Sites
like Facebook and LinkedIn struggle to monetize, but the Shopster
network is about making money for our users which aligns our
interests. Your success is our success, and it's free to join, so
there really is no risk."

According to Paul McCluskey, Shopster's EVP Research and Development,
the Network is the product of five years of e-commerce development and
extensive research with Shopster's large existing user base.

"We wanted to release something that not only met, but exceeded the
expectations of the market," says McCluskey. "The Merchant Network
takes traditional software as a service (SaaS) and pushes it farther
than ever before, growing more powerful and more useful with each new
user. You don't use Shopster to run your business, Shopster is your
business. Cheaper, faster, more powerful. What every network and every
platform has been striving for."

In addition to providing a proven, stable platform for building online
stores, the new Shopster Merchant Network will allow you to:

- Dramatically reduce inventory costs
- Connect with suppliers and sellers immediately and manage those
- Integrate online commerce activities under one portal
- Enhance search engine discoverability ("search engine optimization"
or SEO)

Merchants and suppliers are encouraged to sign up at at no charge.


Founded in 2004, is an official eBay Solutions Partner
that offers a suite of eCommerce solutions for small to medium sized
business. Thousands of online merchants rely on Shopster from around
the world. Shopster simplifies the complexities of online retail,
allowing merchants to manage their store, transactions, and supply
chain relationships in one easy to use place. Joining the Network is
free, so merchants can focus on growth and relationships, not on

For further information: demonstration accounts, or media interviews,
view our multimedia presentation at or contact:
Suzy Vadori, EVP Operations, Shopster e-Commerce, (403) 366-3713,

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The Frontier Times: Canada's Payments Journal
150-5585 Monkland Avenue
Montreal, Quebec, Canada H4A1E1