Whether you’re shopping in a local store, across the border or online, sending money using online banking, or getting cash at an ABM, there’s an Interac® product or service to meet your needs. And we continue to innovate and create new and easier ways to keep your money secure and accessible in real time for whatever – or whomever – matters to you.
Interac branded products and services are currently offered by Interac Association and Acxsys Corporation, which together operate an economical, world-class debit system. With broad-based acceptance, 24/7 reliability, security and efficiency, Interac products and services are an everyday part of life for Canadians. Interac Association and Acxsys Corporation are two distinct business entities that are part of an organizational structure that was formed pursuant to an order issued by the Government of Canada’s Competition Tribunal. While they are distinct business entities, they are connected in several ways.
Interac Association is a recognized world leader in debit card services. It is responsible for the development and operations of the Interac network, a national payment network that allows Canadians to access their money at ABMs through the Interac Cash service and at point-of-sale terminals across Canada through the Interac Debit service. Interac Debit also includes Interac Flash, a secure contactless enhancement that allows Canadians to pay for items instantly by holding their cards at point-of-sale readers that support Interac Flash.
Interac Association started in 1984 as a cooperative venture between five Canadian financial institutions: Royal Bank, CIBC, Scotiabank, TD Bank and la Confédération des caisses populaires et d’économies Desjardins du Québec. These financial institutions had a vision to create a single national shared network to give Canadians broader access to their cash from ABMs across Canada and the Interac Cash service was launched. The Association quickly grew to 10 members, as Bank of Montreal, Canada Trust, Laurentian Bank, National Bank and Credit Union Central of Canada joined the original five by 1986. Following the success of Interac Cash, Interac Association launched the Interac Debit service in 1994, Canada’s first national debit card service for purchases at the point-of-sale.
Interac Association operated under an order issued by the Government of Canada’s Competition Tribunal in 1996 (the “Consent Order”, subsequently varied and restated as consent agreement, as amended from time to time). The primary purpose of the Consent Order was to open up access to the Interac network and the existing services (Interac Cash and Interac Debit) to new members. It prescribed how Interac Association is structured, how it is governed and by whom, how it sets and collects fees and other matters. It also required Interac Association to operate on a not-for-profit basis, setting fees only to recover costs directly associated with running the business.
Today, Interac Association has a large and diverse group of members that includes banks, trust companies, credit unions, caisses populaires, merchants, and technology and payment related companies. It enables Canadians to access their money at more than 65,000 ABMs and 879,000 point-of-sale terminals across Canada.
In 1996, the eight original architects of the Interac network created Acxsys Corporation (“Acxsys”) to develop new business partnerships and new services and take advantage of opportunities in the marketplace on a competitive basis utilizing assets that were not affected by the implementation of the Consent Order under which Interac Association operates. Acxsys has entered into agreements which allow it to use certain assets such as the Interac network software and the Interac trademarks to operate on a for-profit basis.
Acxsys is governed by a shareholder board consisting of the original architects of the Interac network: RBC, BMO Bank of Montreal, CIBC, TD Canada Trust, Scotiabank, Credit Union Central of Canada, National Bank of Canada, and Desjardins. Acxsys has entered into agreements which allow it to use certain assets such as the Interac network software and the Interac trademarks to operate on a for-profit basis.
Acxsys specializes in the development, operation and management of payment and other ancillary service opportunities, as well as consulting and management services. It provides staff, services and facilities needed to operate Interac Association at cost.
Today, Acxsys offers Interac Online for secure online payments made directly from a bank account, Interac e-Transfer for the transfer of money from one person's bank account to another using an email address or mobile phone number, and international services which provide Canadian cardholders with point-of-sale access at nearly 2 million U.S. retailers, and ABM access for cash withdrawals to foreign cardholders in Canada.
The Consent Order imposes constraints that create structural, governance and funding challenges for the business entities that together deliver the Interac services, particularly with respect to making timely and effective decisions and funding innovation. These challenges impact our organization’s ability to compete effectively in today’s highly competitive payments marketplace.
In response to these challenges, the Competition Tribunal in 2013 approved amendments to the Consent Order that permit a restructuring of the organization into a single entity - Interac Corp.- that will offer a single integrated portfolio of payment products under the direction of an independent board, and with the ability to better fund innovation. The amended Consent Agreement will remain in place until June 2018, subject to a successful restructuring of the organization.
Ultimately, the restructuring requires approval of Interac Association’s Board of Directors and its members. Work is aggressively underway to complete this transformation of the organization. It is a critical step in helping the organization to continue offering effective, convenient and secure payment products available and the value-add of remaining a low-cost payment option for Canadian merchants and consumers.