Interac seeks Competition Tribunal’s approval to vary terms of Consent Agreement

News Release

Bureau supports Interac’s request, which safeguards against anti-competitive conduct

September 14, 2017 – OTTAWA, ON – Competition Bureau

The Competition Bureau is again supporting a request by Interac Inc., Canada’s largest banks and other Canadian financial institutions to vary their existing consent agreement with the Bureau which could allow Interac more flexibility to invest in and develop innovative products and services. This agreement contains safeguards to address the Bureau’s concerns about anti-competitive conduct related to Interac’s cash dispensing and point-of-sale services (shared services).

The Bureau was mindful of the fast pace of change in the Canadian financial sector, and more specifically, in the payments space. The amended consent agreement will maintain protections to ensure that a diverse group of financial service providers can access important services, and will also allow Interac to restructure its operations in order to offer innovative new products to Canadians. When the amended consent agreement is approved by the Competition Tribunal, Interac will be able to restructure to a corporation with a board consisting of both independent directors and directors appointed by financial institutions.

The original consent agreement, which was first approved by the Competition Tribunal in 1996, opened up the Interac network beyond its charter members and removed barriers to competition between network participants.

The Bureau conducted a comprehensive assessment of the most recent request, including collecting information from and consulting with Interac and Canadian financial institutions. The Bureau also spoke with members of Interac Association, trade associations, government agencies, regulators and a corporate governance expert.

Quick Facts

  • Interac, which was founded in 1984 as a cooperative venture between RBC, CIBC, Scotiabank, TD, and Desjardins, operates a non-profit interbank network that allows financial institutions and other enterprises to conduct electronic financial transactions.

  • A 2013 amendment to the consent agreement allowed Interac to restructure from an unincorporated association to a corporation with an independent board, operating under a cost-recovery model.

  • In addition to Interac, the parties to the consent agreement include BMO, CIBC, Desjardins, National Bank of Canada, RBC, Scotiabank, TD and Credit Union Central of Canada, an organization representing Canadian credit unions.

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