Canadian government to adjust conduct code for mobile payments

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Ottawa is gearing up to modify its two-year-old code of conduct for credit and debit cards to get ready for the broad use of mobile payments via smartphones and similar devices.

Ottawa minister Ted Menzies says the government will hold a public consultation over the next 60 days to determine how the code could be revised, and then implement revisions to ensure that Canadians and small businesses can employ mobile payments.

Menzies says the new regulations will guarantee flexibility in payment options for both retailers and consumers, while the Canadian Federation of Independent Business says the modifications will help boost the code’s relevance and utility to small business owners

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Although MasterCard’s Mobile Payment Readiness Index ranks Canada as the second best of 34 global markets in terms of bank/government alliances and business/regulatory settings, it was below average in terms of consumer readiness. Meanwhile, Rogers Communications recently reported that it anticipates launching a credit card that will be part of a virtual wallet as the telecom firm migrates to smartphone-based mobile payments. This followed an earlier announcement that Rogers will roll out Canada’s first mobile payments system later this year.

“While we support new and convenient payment options, small businesses and consumers should not be punished with new hidden fees or undisclosed conditions,” says Menzies. “As mobile payment options begin to grow more rapidly in Canada, our Government wants to ensure that the principles of transparency, fairness and competition are respected.”

Corinne Pohlmann, vice president, national affairs for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, applauded the move. “Today’s actions are welcome,” she says. “They show that the Code can evolve, and will address some of the reforms needed to continue to level the playing field between payments operators and small business.”