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Payment industry comes together to ensure smooth migration to chip technology in Canada

TORONTO, March 13 – Members of the payment card industry – Interac Association, MasterCard Canada Inc., Visa Canada Association, and many of their respective card issuers and acquirers – today announced a firm commitment to a broad industry migration to chip technology. The migration to chip card technology represents a significant change in the Canadian payments landscape, and this large-scale coordination of key players is an important step in ensuring a smooth transition for all participants in the electronic payments system.

While each organization provides their own proprietary security offerings, the payment card industry has come together to ensure a common set of international standards around this new technology. These global standards, known as EMV(TM), allow for the harmonizing of policies, procedures and technical standards, ensuring interoperability among all payment schemes and thereby simplifying the implementation requirements for payment system participants, including merchants. The adoption of these international standards also ensures that participants in the Canadian payments system will utilize established technology, which has been tested and proven in other countries that have already migrated to chip.

The move to chip card technology is the latest innovation in the rapidly-changing debit and credit card environment, and demonstrates the industry's efforts to further secure Canadian electronic payments. Already tested, proven and in wide use around the world, chip cards provide unparalleled security for the payments industry. Chip cards are plastic cards with an embedded computer chip and provide the ultimate in protection against counterfeit and lost and stolen card fraud. In addition to providing increased security, the innovative technology behind the chip card also affords both merchants and cardholders greater convenience at point-of-sale.

This multilateral announcement follows individual announcements by Interac Association, MasterCard and Visa regarding their respective intentions to move to chip card technology, with each organization setting out individual timelines for migration. Beginning in 2007, many merchants and cardholders will start to see the introduction of cards that feature chip technology, and within three years of this date, it is expected that the majority of cardholders and merchants will be able to fully benefit from this new technology.

The migration to chip card technology represents a forward-looking evolution of electronic payments systems designed to make an already safe payments system even more secure. During the transition period to chip, magnetic stripe cards will continue to provide Canadians with a safe, reliable and convenient method of payment. In addition, cardholders can continue to place their confidence in the protection afforded by the additional security features offered by individual organizations.

About Interac Association

Formed in 1984, Interac Association is a not-for-profit organization composed of 95 members which include: banks, trust companies, credit unions,caisses populaires, technology and payment related companies. Interac Association is responsible for the development of the national network for two shared electronic financial services: INTERAC Direct Payment, Canada's national debit card service and INTERAC Shared Cash Dispensing Service for cash withdrawals at Automated Banking Machines. For more information go to www.interac.org

About MasterCard International

MasterCard International is a leading global payments solutions company that provides a broad variety of innovative services in support of our global members’ credit, deposit access, electronic cash, business-to-business and related payment programs. MasterCard manages a family of well-known, widely accepted payment card brands including MasterCard®, Maestro® and Cirrus® and serves financial institutions, consumers and businesses in over 210 countries and territories. The MasterCard award-winning Priceless® advertising campaign is now seen in 105 countries and in 48 languages, giving the MasterCard brand a truly global reach and scope. For more information go to www.mastercardinternational.com

About Visa Canada

As the "World's Best Way to Pay®," the Visa® brand is the leading payment brand in the world. Twenty-one thousand financial institutions worldwide rely on Visa's processing system, VisaNet®, to facilitate $3.7 trillion (USD) in annual transaction volume with virtually 100 per cent reliability. The Visa brand has unsurpassed global acceptance at more than 24 million locations including close to one million ATMs. Within Canada, 23 Member financial institutions have issued more than 26 million Visa cards,accounting for $151 billion in sales volume for 2005. For more information, visit www.visa.ca

™ EMV is a trademark owned by EMVCo LLC

For further information: please contact:

Tina Romano
Association Interac
416 869-5062
tromano@interac.org

Jennifer Reed
MasterCard Canada inc.
416 365-6664
jennifer_reed@mastercard.com

Mei Ankrett
Association Visa Canada
416 860-8869
mankrett@visa.com