CFIB calls for enhancements to credit/debit card Code

Competition Tribunal soon to rule on similar issues in US Visa, MasterCard settlement

TORONTO, July 17, 2012 /CNW/ - In advance of rapidly growing mobile payment options and an important ruling by the Competition Tribunal, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is calling on Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to strengthen the government's landmark Code of Conduct for the Credit and Debit Card Industry in Canada. This follows a $7.25 billion US settlement with Visa and MasterCard which will allow US merchants the power to surcharge for accepting credit cards.

"The Code that CFIB initially proposed, and the government implemented, was a worldwide first that helped save low-cost debit in Canada and gave merchants some degree of power in dealing with the industry," said Dan Kelly, CFIB's new president and chief executive officer. "The Code has been incredibly helpful to small firms, but is in need of enhancements to ensure it remains relevant and effective."

CFIB's call for additional measures in the Code of Conduct was buoyed last week by a massive US settlement which will allow US merchants the possibility of surcharging for credit card acceptance. CFIB called for a similar measure in its original draft of the Code. Canada's Competition Tribunal is expected to rule on similar provisions in the months ahead.  "We believe the best course of action is to allow for limited surcharges and the right to refuse certain high cost cards in the Code itself," Kelly added.  "We do not expect many small firms would ultimately use these powers, but the fact they exist would help Canadian merchants push back against the estimated $5 billion they and consumers pay each year in transaction fees."

In addition to the right to refuse high cost cards or add limited surcharges, CFIB recommends:

  • Adding new provisions to address rapidly growing mobile payment options;
  • Strengthening provisions related to card processor practices as some players are using loopholes to avoid the merchant protections of the Code; and
  • Developing more effective dispute resolution processes.

"In the past two years, CFIB has become the payment industry's unofficial watchdog, and this role has allowed us to stay on top of credit and debit card developments," said Kelly. "These are reasonable reforms, and we're hopeful government will take our advice and create a more level playing field between the payment industry and hard-working small business owners."

As Canada's largest association of small- and medium-sized businesses, CFIB is Powered by Entrepreneurs™. Established in 1971, CFIB takes direction from more than 109,000 members in every sector nationwide, giving independent business a strong and influential voice at all levels of government and helping to grow the economy.


For further information:

or to arrange an interview with Dan Kelly, please contact Gisele Lumsden at 416-222-8022 or email  To read CFIB's recommendations to the Ministry of Finance, visit:

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