Retailers Commend Government Code of Conduct for Debit and Credit Cards

- Merchants Establish Watchdog to Monitor the Payments Marketplace -

OTTAWA, Nov. 19 /CNW/ - Retail Council of Canada (RCC), The Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors (CCGD) and the StopStickingItToUs Coalition, representing more than 250,000 businesses commend Finance Minister Flaherty and the Government of Canada for today's introduction of a Code of Conduct to govern the Canadian debit and credit card markets. The announcement of the Code is an important step toward ensuring merchant choice, enhanced competition and greater transparency in a marketplace dominated by only a few large companies.

RCC, CCGD and its Coalition partners believe that the success of the Code will depend heavily on both implementation and compliance, and therefore today announced the establishment of the Payments Accountability Council (PAC), which will provide input to the consultation process and ultimately, report on compliance with the Code.

"Minister Flaherty deserves a great deal of credit for tackling this important and complex issue, and merchants across Canada appreciate the introduction of the Code," says Diane J. Brisebois, President and CEO, Retail Council of Canada. "Properly implemented, the Code will keep the card companies' feet to the fire with their business practices and our coalition will be holding them publicly accountable."

"The Code is a solid starting point as government begins to address merchant concerns and to avoid skyrocketing costs for debit and credit card transactions," says Dave Wilkes, Senior Vice President, Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors. "It has the potential to impose some price discipline on the card companies, and will force them to compete for merchants' business for the first time, creating a measure of cost-certainty for our members."

RCC, CCGD and its Coalition advocated strongly for real merchant choice, both in transaction routing and card acceptance. Merchants are particularly pleased to see the inclusion of two important measures to address these demands in today's announcement:

    
    -  On each transaction, merchants will be enabled to choose the least
       expensive method for processing.
    -  Merchants will have complete choice of whether or not to offer credit
       and/or debit products from any card brand.
    

While the establishment of a Code is an important milestone for merchants and the communities they serve, its success depends on the response of the card companies, banks and processors.

The Payments Accountability Council (PAC)

The PAC will solicit feedback from its members and the broader merchant community during the government consultation process on how to implement the nine principles tabled by the Minister of Finance. Its mandate extends to include the education of merchants as to their rights and obligations under the Code. The PAC will also act as a conduit for questions or concerns during the Code's implementation and will provide regular public reports to government on its findings.

The PAC's e-hotline for merchant inquiries is live at noon today through its new website, www.creditanddebitwatchdog.ca

About the StopStickingItToUs Coalition

The StopStickingItToUs Coalition is a group of Canadian associations, led by Retail Council of Canada and 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.

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 40,000 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.

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 or mbeazley@retailcouncil.org


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