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Canada Country Report

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  • Published Date: June 2020

A comprehensive overview of the credit cards, payments and merchant acquirer market in Canada, with clear-sighted commentary backed by relevant data.

A real-time payments infrastructure is due in 2022, and an Open Banking framework is currently being prepared. Mindful of growing competition from new methods, Visa and Mastercard are reducing average interchange to 1.4 per cent in mid-2020, having kept the weighted rate at 1.5 per cent for the preceding five years. The merchant acquiring market in Canada is relatively concentrated, with the top four acquirers sharing over 80 per cent of the market but the global trend to industry consolidation in this sector is changing the landscape.

What you will learn from this Canada payments research report:

  • How issuers are funding rewards
  • Which fee categories are key to profit
  • What card privileges appeal to Canadians
  • Why the cards market is well-balanced
  • Where cobrand partnerships fit in


  • Canada is a mature banking and payments market with five large domestic banks dominating.
  • Steps to modernise the payments infrastructure and to open the market are ongoing and should foster increased innovation and competition in the sector.
  • Payments modernisation will see two systems replaced and the addition of a real-time payments system by 2022.
  • Open Banking, to be called Consumer-Directed Finance in Canada, is also being developed, while a new licensing structure for non-bank payment providers has been proposed.
  • Cash use continues to decline in the country. The average Canadian made over 400 card purchases in 2019, up from less than 300 in 2013.
  • Credit cards account for around 70 per cent of the value of card purchases. Extensive rewards offerings incentivise widespread credit card use.
  • The domestic Interac debit scheme, operated by a bank-owned, not-for-profit company, is popular for low-value transactions. It accounts for almost half of card purchase transactions.
  • Restrictions put in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19 are reducing overall spend but accelerating adoption of contactless and online payments in some sectors.
  • Visa and Mastercard have agreed to cap the average credit card interchange fee at 1.4 per cent of the transaction value for five years, starting in the middle of 2020.

Canada Card Payments | Report Contents

Canada Country Report
Demographics and the economy
Payments environment
Cards market
Mobile payments
Profit pool
The networks
Key retail banks and issuers
Acquiring and processing
Online acquiring
Regulatory and other cards market information

Appendices: Card Payments Data

Appendix I: Demographics and the economy

  • Demographic and economic indicators
  • Ownership of key consumer devices
  • Internet usage by population

Appendix II: Payments environment

  • Access points
  • Account penetration
  • Consumer payment trends
  • B2C e-commerce payment methods

Appendix III: Cards market

  • Total cards payment metrics
  • Contactless cards metrics
  • Credit card data numbers
  • Total credit cards metrics
  • Credit cards profitability indicators
  • Debit card data numbers
  • Debit cards metrics
  • Prepaid/e-money cards metrics

Appendix IV: Mobile payments

  • Mobile proximity payment metrics
  • Mobile P2P payments

Appendix V: Profit pool

  • Canada profit pool

Appendix VI: The card networks

  • Networks' credit card market shares
  • Networks' credit card data numbers
  • Networks' credit card billed volume
  • Networks' number of credit card transactions
  • Networks' average credit card transaction value
  • Credit card interchange fees by network
  • Networks' debit card market shares
  • Networks' debit card data numbers
  • Networks' debit card billed volume
  • Networks' number of debit card transactions
  • Networks' average debit card transaction value
  • Debit card interchange fees by network (signature debit cards: exempt)
  • Debit card interchange fees by network (signature and PIN debit cards: regulated)

Appendix VII: Key retail banks and issuers

  • Key credit card issuers market shares by credit card numbers
  • Key issuers market shares in credit card outstandings
  • Key debit card issuers market shares by debit card numbers
  • Key private label card issuers market shares by credit card numbers

Appendix VIII: Acquiring and processing

  • Merchant acquirer credit card market share
  • Credit card merchant service charges
  • Merchant acquirer debit card market share
  • Debit card merchant service charges
  • Credit card issuer/issuing processor relationships
  • Credit card acquirer/acquiring processor relationships
  • Credit card issuing processor market shares by card numbers
  • Credit card acquiring processor market shares by the number of POS transactions

Appendix IX: Online acquiring

  • Online merchant acquirer market share

Canada Country Report | Selected Extracts

Demographics and Economy:
Trade comprises two-thirds of gross domestic product, making it one of the most trade-dependent countries in the world. Almost three-quarters of all trade takes place exclusively with the United States, making the economy extremely dependent upon its southern neighbour.

Payments Environment:
Canada has an advanced payments market with high levels of card usage. In common with other developed countries, cash use is declining, and digital payments are growing in popularity.

Cards market:
Card penetration levels are high with virtually all adults holding a debit card and nine in ten a credit card. At the end of 2019, there were an estimated 60 million credit cards and 47 million debit cards in circulation for an adult population of 31.6 million.

Mobile Payments:
Proximity mobile payments in Canada are dominated by the three global 'Pays' offered by Apple, Google and Samsung. A small but growing proportion of contactless payments are made through mobile devices.

Profit Pool:
As is the case in many markets globally, issuer portfolios in Canada have gradually shifted towards less risky portfolios in the last decade, with growth in spend per card and stability in rollover rate.

Card Networks:
Canada's credit cards market is represented in the main by three global brands: Visa, Mastercard and American Express. There has been stiff competition between Visa and Mastercard. The debit cards market is dominated by Canada's domestic debit network, Interac.

Key Retail Banks and Issuers:
The retail banking market in Canada is dominated by a Big Five: RBC (Royal Bank of Canada), TD (Toronto-Dominion Bank), Scotiabank, CIBC (Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce) and BMO (Bank of Montreal). RBC is the largest in terms of total asset size. At the end of 2019, a total of 86 banks were operating in the country.

Acquiring and Processing:
The merchant acquiring market in Canada is relatively concentrated, with the top four acquirers sharing over 80% of the market. The dominant quartet are Moneris Solutions, Global Payments, Chase Merchant Services and TD Merchant Services.

Online Acquiring:
Canada has a high internet penetration rate of over 90%, and the e-commerce market is constantly growing. Verisk Financial Research estimates that $82 billion was spent with cards at online merchants in Canada in 2019.

Regulatory and Markets Information:
In Canada, supervisory responsibility for the financial sector is divided among the federal government, provincial governments and national self- regulatory organisations.

Canada Payments Trends | Entities Referenced

Air Canada
American Express
Ameublements Tanguay
Amex Bank of Canada
Amex Canada
Bank of Canada
Bank of Montreal
Best Buy
Brault & Martineau
British Airways
Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Canadian Association of University Teachers
Canadian Bar Association
Canadian Federation of Independent Business
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce
Canadian Nurses' Association
Canadian Payments Association
Canadian Tire Bank
Canadian Tire Financial Services
Capital One
Cathay Pacific
Chase Merchant Services
Chase Paymentech
Dream Payments
E-xact Transactions
FairFax Financial
Financial Consumer Agency of Canada
Financial Institutions Supervisory Committee
First Data
First Ontario Credit Union
Future Shop
Global Payments
Goldman Sachs
Home Depot
JPMorgan Chase
MBNA Canada
Meridian Credit Union
Moneris Solutions
National Bank
National Bank of Canada
National Data Corporation
National Hockey League
Nova Information Systems
Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions
Patrick Morin
Payments Canada
President's Choice Financial
Presidents Choice
Reno Depot
Restaurants Canada
Retail Council of Canada
Royal Bank of Canada
TD Merchant Services
The Bay
The Source
Toronto-Dominion Bank
University of Ottawa
University of Toronto
US Bancorp
Western Union
WestJet Airlines



Verisk Financial Research reports deliver market and competitor intelligence on payments cards, e-money, acquiring/processing, retail banking, and consumer credit in North America. Researchers use both primary and secondary source data and conduct in-depth interviews with senior industry executives and North American experts.

See more North America Country Reports or explore the full range of financial research reports for 72 cards and payments markets worldwide,

To find out more or to discuss subscription options, please email: research_enquiries@verisk.com or telephone: +44(0)20 7337 4200.