Federal code of conduct for Canada's debit and credit card markets comes into

- Payments Accountability Council and Financial Consumer Agency of Canada to monitor industry compliance -

OTTAWA, Aug. 16 /CNW/ - Today, the federal code of conduct for Canada's debit and credit card markets announced by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty in April came into effect. The code has been adopted by all payment card networks, including American Express Canada, THE EXCHANGE ATM network, Interac, MasterCard Canada and Visa Canada.

The Payments Accountability Council (PAC), led by Retail Council of Canada (RCC), the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors (CCGD) and backed by more than 250,000 Canadian merchants will monitor, through member feedback, compliance with the code. Failures to comply will be reported to the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC), the government mandated watchdog monitoring the implementation of the code.

"Minister Flaherty and the Government of Canada deserve a great deal of credit for taking this critical step toward developing a Canadian payments system that is competitive, fair and provides clarity for both merchants and customers," says Diane J. Brisebois, President and CEO, Retail Council of Canada and co-chair of the Payments Accountability Council. "Though our members continue to believe a robust regulatory framework is necessary for Canada's debit and credit card markets, the code represents much needed incremental progress. We will be keeping a close eye on the industry to make sure the code is being followed in good faith."

FCAC's Role in Monitoring the Code

Under the Payment Card Networks Act, the FCAC has been given responsibility for monitoring the implementation of the code of conduct and payment card network operators' ongoing adherence to it. To do so, FCAC will monitor issues raised by consumers and merchants and work with payment card networks to resolve them. The Agency will report to the Minister of Finance at least annually on adherence to the code of conduct.

Merchants who believe that their rights under the code of conduct have not been respected may also contact FCAC by telephone at 1-866-461-3222. If it appears that there is non-compliance with the code, FCAC will investigate and will follow up with the payment card network.

For almost two years, retailers, grocers and other service sector businesses from coast-to-coast have been advocating for government measures to increase clarity, transparency and choice in a payments system controlled by only a few major players.

Minister Flaherty has committed to regulate the conduct of the credit card companies, banks and processors involved in Canada's payments system if they do not adhere to the voluntary code.

The PAC remains focused on three key principles needed in the Canadian payments system:

    -   The need to provide clarity - for consumers and merchants
    -   The need to provide merchants with effective tools to manage costs
        associated with debit and credit cards
    -   The need to ensure that the costs built into the system through
        loyalty and other programs are paid for by those who introduce and
        benefit from these programs

About the Payments Accountability Council

The Payments Accountability Council is a group of Canadian associations, led by Retail Council of Canada and The Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors, backed by over 250,000 businesses from coast-to-coast, that is standing up to the Big Credit Card Companies to put a stop to skyrocketing fees. Its members include: Retail Council of Canada, Alberta Liquor Store Association, Canadian Booksellers Association, Canadian, Convenience Stores Association, Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors, Canadian Jewellers Association, Hotel Association of Canada, Ontario Accommodation Association, Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association, Retail B.C, The British Columbia Restaurant and Food Services Association, The Retail Merchant's Association of Canada (Ontario). Wine Council of Ontario, Mega Group Inc. Bicycle Trade Association of Canada, Canadian Oil Heat Association, Conseil québécois du commerce de détail, Camping in Ontario, Tourism Industry Association of Canada, and the Canadian Association of Chain Drug Stores, Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers and the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association.

About Retail Council of Canada

Retail Council of Canada (RCC) has been the Voice of Retail in Canada since 1963. We speak for an industry that touches the daily lives of Canadians in every corner of the country - by providing jobs, career opportunities, and by investing in the communities we serve. RCC is a not-for-profit, industry-funded association representing more than 43,000 store fronts of all retail formats across Canada, including department, specialty, discount, and independent stores, and online merchants. RCC is a strong advocate for retailing in Canada and works with all levels of government and other stakeholders to support employment growth and career opportunities in retail, to promote and sustain retail investments in communities from coast-to-coast, and to enhance consumer choice and industry competitiveness. RCC also provides its members with a full range of services and programs including education and training, benchmarking and best practices, networking, advocacy, and industry information.

SOURCE Retail Council of Canada

For further information: For further information: Mark Beazley, Director, Communications, Retail Council of Canada at (416) 922-0553, ext. 228; e-mail: mbeazley@retailcouncil.org

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