Canadian Regulators to Deliver Interchange Decision

July 22, 2013

A ruling is expected tomorrow that could ease the burden on merchants that accept MasterCard and Visa in Canada. The country’s Competition Tribunal, a special court with economic and legal expertise, is scheduled to deliver a ruling tomorrow that could strike down rules merchants in Canada have long maintained are restrictive and anticompetitive. If the tribunal rescinds existing rules, the card networks will no longer be able to force merchants to accept all varieties of credit cards or merchants could be able to assess a surcharge to consumers who use premium cards that cost more to accept.

“Without changes to the rules, merchants will continue to face high costs for accepting credit cards, and all consumers, even those who use lower-cost methods of payment like debit or cash, will continue to pay higher prices,” said Canada’s Commissioner of Competition Melanie Aitken in a statement at the start of hearings.

Interchange reform advocates hope the tribunal will cap credit interchange and enable merchants to surcharge on purchases made with cards that carry higher interchange rates.