Nov 4, 2010

Interac  widens international card acceptance at Canadian ATMs

Interac’s Canadian ABM network is expanding its acceptance of smaller international card brands.

Within a year of signing agreements with Chinese bank card association UnionPay and with US-based ATM and point-of-sale network operator Pulse, over 50 percent of Interac-connected ATMs in Canada are able to accept UnionPay, Discover, Diners Club International and Pulse-branded cards.

The service provides UnionPay, Diners Club International, Discover and Pulse cardholders with the ability to withdraw money from ATMs belonging to participating acquirers in Canada.

Pulse, Diners Club International and Discover are all owned by US cards company Discover Financial Services. Diners Club International covers the rest of the world outside North America, as Bank of Montreal owns the North American Diners portfolio.

Currently, there are over 2.3 billion UnionPay cards in issue worldwide. Shanghai-based UnionPay says on its website that it has over 300 associate members both in the People’s Republic of China and overseas.

UnionPay’s agreement with Interac follows on from  acceptance deals that the bank card scheme has signed on behalf of its cardholders in other parts of the world, Payments Business notes. Currently,  UnionPay cards are accepted in 90 countries and regions around the world.

“The momentum (of international card acceptance) is growing at Canadian ATMs,” Allen Wright, senior vice president of products and services management at Interac Association, tells Payments Business. However, Wright declined to disclose transaction volumes.

In a statement, Interac Association noted that the deals with Pulse and with UnionPay have increased ATM volumes for Canadian acquirers by providing access to a new cardholder base of foreign cardholders, which is expected to grow.

Gerry Wagner, Discover's VP of Global Acceptance, tells Payments Business that Discover is looking to aggressively expand its acceptance in Canada. “We are very pleased with Interac, as they are continually signing up ATM acquirers to take our cards.” 

In 2009, 160,000 Chinese travelers visited Canada, and now that Canada has received approved destination status by China, the yearly rate of travel to Canada from China is expected to increase up to 50 per cent by 2015, according to the Conference Board of Canada.










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