Interac Association

Interac Association

 Interac is Canada's leading payment brand and the country's only domestically run, coast-to-coast debit payment network. There are two organizations behind the Interac brand: Interac Association and Acxsys Corporation.

Interac Association was formed in 1984 as a cooperative endeavour by 5 Canadian financial institutions: ROYAL BANK OF CANADA (RBC), SCOTIABANK, CIBC, TD BANK (now TD Canada Trust) and La Confédération des CAISSES POPULAIRES et d'économies Desjardins du Québec (now Fédération des Caisses Desjardins du Québec, part of the DESJARDINS GROUP). The goal of the association was to create a single national network to provide Canadians with a shared cash dispensing (SCD) service that would operate across the country. The association grew quickly and by 1986 the original 5 members had been joined by BANK OF MONTREAL, CANADA TRUST (now part of TD Canada Trust), Laurentian Bank, NATIONAL BANK, and Credit Union Central of Canada. After the initial success of its SCD services at Automated Banking Machines (ABM), Interac Association launched a national debit card service, Interac Direct Payment (IDP), which was introduced as a pilot in Ottawa in 1990 and rolled out across the country in 1994.

Today the association comprises a diverse membership that includes banks, credit unions, caisses populaires, trust companies, merchants and a range of non-financial enterprises. Its role is to establish and enforce rules governing transactions conducted within the Inter-Member Network (IMN) of ABMs and Interac Direct Payment. The association is a not-for-profit organization governed by a 14-member Board of Directors who are appointed annually by the members. The Board operates under a Consent Agreement, issued in 1996 by the Competition Tribunal, which outlines requirements for the organization's governance, access to the network and revenue model.

There are more than 58 000 shared ABMs and 700 000 IDP terminals across the country. The Interac payment network handles nearly 60% of all card payment transactions in Canada. In 2009, Canadians conducted nearly 4 billion IDP transactions, making us among the highest debit users in the world on a per-capita basis. Interac Association has launched Interac Flash, a new contactless enhancement of IDP, to provide customers with an even faster payment alternative to cash for everyday small purchases.

Acxsys Corporation was formed in 1996 and comprises 8 large financial institutions - BMO Bank of Montreal, CIBC, RBC, Scotiabank, TD Canada Trust, National Bank of Canada, Desjardins Group and Credit Union Central of Canada - as shareholders. Acxsys specializes in the development and operation of new payment service opportunities, as well as consulting and management services in the field of electronic payments. Acxsys Corporation businesses include the operation of the Interac Email Money Transfer service, the Interac Online service, and Cross Border Debit, which allows Canadian travellers to pay with their debit cards in the United States, through an arrangement with the NYCE Network.

In 2008, Interac Association introduced EMV chip technology on Interac debit cards. EMV is based on a global standard for credit and debit payment cards based on chip card technology. It incorporates an embedded microchip that enables the card to store and process data to provide an additional barrier against card skimming and producing counterfeit cards. After 31 Dec 2012, ABMs will no longer accept magnetic stripe transactions, and point-of-sale terminals will no longer support them after 31 Dec 2015.

Interac Association sponsors the Canadian Retail Institute, a division of the Retail Council of Canada, which focuses on strengthening the retail industry by encouraging education and career awareness through educational programs, scholarships and partnerships. The association also participates in the Retail as a Career Scholarship Program, which supports students entering or enrolled in business, marketing or a retail-related program at a Canadian post-secondary institution, by awarding a scholarship to the top applicant.