Interac Advantage?

by William Patterson

The Fictional Advantage of Interac Direct Payment

Interac Direct Payment prevents overspending
The rationale behind this is that we are always aware of how much money we have left and that there is no monthly bills at the end of the month. This is ludicrous. The convenience factor alone is enough to allow for you to purchase stupid things compulsively even when you don't have cash on hand. Case in point: I once saw a guy buy a bag of chips at the video store with his debit card.

Interac Direct Payment is more confidential than writing a cheque
It is commonly known that the swipe card machines do more than take your cash. It is now practice for stores to keep a digital record of all purchases made on your card in order to send you advertising. Their explanation is that they are doing you a service. Junk mail, a service?!

The Real Advantage of Interac Direct Payment

It must be stated that there are good things to this technology. Very small towns without banks rely on Interac to do financial transactions. Without Interac everyone in these places would have to have either a wad of cash or use a lot of cheques.

Carrying plastic is more secure than carrying cash around. How many muggers go for cash anymore, though? With the world going digital, the big time crooks will follow.

Some Interac Facts

Interac Direct Payment technology was first developed in 1990, but not introduced in Canada until 1994.

There is a service charge of $1 every time you use your bank's card with another bank's Interac machine (Royal Bank charges $1.25). About .25 cents goes to your bank, while .75 cents goes to the other bank.

"Interac Direct Payment was used an average of 32 times per second or 1,902.75 times per minute, every hour of every day in 1997," said Jim Kenney, Vice-president, Marketing, Interac Association. "This makes Canadians among the heaviest users of debit payment in the world..."

More than 18,000 banking machines across Canada that offer this service.

Over 97 per cent of Canada's banking machines are part of the Interac network.

Over a billion transactions occurred between September 1994 and October 1996. Also, during the same period, the number of merchants rose from 77,561 to 177,470. Currently there are over 230,000 merchants offering Interac.

In 1997 debit cards were used 1,003,960,047 times.

"The chip card can carry much more information than the traditional magnetic stripe card, allowing the cards to offer new capabilities and consumer features... current chip cards can store up to 80 times more information than is contained by the magnetic stripe on conventional banking cards. " from Chip Card Technology - Frequently Asked Questions at

In 1997 Canadians spent over $44 billion across all retail and service sectors using the Interac Direct Payment Service.

click to see tables

Ultimately, who is Interac an advantage to? Banks pulling in record profits.

back to cancontent