Canadian consumers will be able to use debit cards on trains, buses and planes after the implementation of new rules announced by Payments Canada.
Under current rules, merchants must have consistent online connectivity to accept debit payments. So while Canadians are a “global leader” in debit card use, this has made debit impractical for certain transactions, particularly that involve mobility such as bus fares and in-flight purchases. Most airlines and VIA Rail now restrict on-board purchases to credit, and don't take debit payments. (Many have also disallowed cash.)
In its release, Payments Canada specifically noted the new Rule E5 would appeal to "public transit operators, whose business models require quick authorization." The Rule offers delayed authorization, removing the requirement for immediate online connectivity, and should broaden point-of-sale debit card acceptance. In the transit scenario, operators can allow passengers to pay and ride without payment authorization. The rule should also enable debit payment at parking meters and vending machines.
While the change by Payments Canada will permit the transactions, there was no information on how quickly merchants and other payment participants would implement any changes.
Fewer Canadians are carrying cash, and debit cards are used for more transactions than cash, according to Payment Canada’s annual Canadian Payments Methods and Trends Report. More everyday lower value transactions are also using debit.
Consumers Council of Canada President Don Mercer said Canadians “stand to benefit from new secure ways to pay. However, as with all payments choices, consumers should become informed on the terms and conditions before choosing any method of payment.”