Interac creates ‘open’ mobile debit payment solution called Interac TSP [Update]

Ian Hardy

February 22, 2016 9:50am

2016 looks like it’s going to be the year mobile payments take off in Canada. Following the introduction of Apple Pay last year, Samsung yesterday announced it will bring Samsung Pay to Canada sometime in 2016. Today, Interac Association/Acxsys Corporation, more commonly known as Interac, announced its foray into the digital payments market.

The company, which handles more than 12 million transactions a day, has, in partnership with IBM, Everlink and Bell ID, created Interac TSP (Interac Token Service Provider), a service that allows Canadian debit card holders to make secure debit payments with their mobile device or mobile wallet.

“Interac TSP enables the secure storing of tokenized versions of Interac Flash,” said the company in a statement to MobileSyrup. Tokenization replaces a person’s debit card number with an equivalent set of random numbers, and allows third-party vendors to safely handle transaction information.

interact token.jpg

Interac notes “this proprietary token generation and management service enables financial institutions, merchants and our partners to innovate, build and manage secure digital payment experiences.” Probably the biggest news out of the announcement is that Interac TSP is an ‘open’ mobile debit payment solution that comes with “device-agnostic technology that can be implemented on any mobile device that supports it.”

Avinash Chidambaram, vice president of product and platform development at Interac, said, “extending our strong value proposition to digital payments is a given. Canadian consumers use us more than any other payment brand and acceptance is nearly ubiquitous at merchants from coast to coast because of the benefits we provide to them.”

Update: Select Credit Unions in Canada were quick to respond and adopt Interac TSP. In a statement to MobileSyrup, the service will go live “starting this spring” and the first four credit unions to launch the Mobile Pay service are: Affinity Credit Union in Saskatchewan, Conexus Credit Union in Saskatchewan, First West Credit Union in British Columbia and Meridian in Ontario.”

Source Interac
  • Can’t Fix Stupid

    With the RBC Wallet I’m already good to go at and tap and pay Visa terminals even on Fido that doesn’t have NFC sims.

    Interac getting in on the game should help move things along also.

    • Spencer

      My problem with the RBC Wallet is the fact that I need to login to the wallet, select my card, and then tap on the terminal. It’s so much easier for me to pull out my debit card and tap it. Until the RBC Wallet actually allows me to just tap my phone, like Android Pay, I find it kind of useless.

    • FlamesFan89

      My problem with the RBC wallet is that it requires RBC. Not that I have a problem with RBC, I’m just not with them for any products, and therefore RBC wallet is useless to me.

      That is the problem with EVERY foray into digital payments in Canada. You always are limited to a subset of bank(s), carrier(s), or device(s), and unless you match all three, you are pooched.

      I sincerely hope that this Interac TSP solves all that.

    • It’s Me

      It might solve it for debit payments but unlikely for credit payments. And although a single solution would be nice in theory, having one org act as the gatekeeper to mobile payments means consumers would be entirely at their mercy. That one company would decide if there are fees and how much they’d be and who gets to play.

    • FlamesFan89

      I pay for things almost exclusively through debit anyway, so that aspect doesn’t bother me. I do get what you are saying about the “one company” aspect of things, however, doesn’t Interac essentially run the show in the world of debit payments as it is? This wouldn’t really change that I don’t think, other than offering a new method for consumers to use their debit accounts.

    • It’s Me

      After years of pressuring the CB to allow them to run as a for-profit corporation, Interac finally got consent in 2013. So we now have a single entity, running for profit and controlled by the big banks. I don’t think giving them even more control is in the consumers best interest.

    • FlamesFan89

      Does it really give them more control though? Honest question.

    • Mr Dog

      Was thinking the same thing, although they don’t have much room. The appealing thing about interact was the price, any change in that and merchants might move towards CC.

    • It’s Me

      Well, mobile debit payments are a new territory. So in that sense, if they lockup control from the beginning, the yes they have more control since they’d then have control over mobile debit as well as traditional debit. Visa and MasterCard were pushing a few years ago to bring a competing debit platform to Canada. I don’t recall what happened but I expect they got shutout.

      I’m not saying interac controlling mobile debit would be better or worse than their control now, but it would entrench their control even more. 3 years ago when they were not for profit maybe I’d feel different but I’m not optimistic about them continuing or extending their domination. I’m not a big fan of monopolies, especially monopolies that are gifted, which our banking system did with interac.

    • FlamesFan89

      Fair enough. Good response.

    • It’s Me

      It’s very poorly implemented in a number of ways and is limited to RBC. Although, I think you can have it work by just tapping and without opening the app. There is a setting to disable security or something like that to make it work.

    • rgl168

      I tried it – it doesn’t. If you don’t have the RBC app up, when you tap the phone with the credit card terminal it will respond back “application not supported”.

    • Pigs Can Fly

      Yeah login to select the card but after it’s setup you don’t need to log in.

    • Vito R.

      You always need to login to pay.

    • Mo Dabbas

      You can make it save you in wallet so you’ll only need to select the card and then put your pin code and you’re set.
      Thing is, it’s the only payment method available for a wide range of phones (pretty much any android device that supports nfc). And I don’t think it’s bad for a first gen product.

    • neo905

      I finally got Suretap to work once I got the Android 6 update. It is actually easier to use than RBC Wallet. I was pleasantly surprised for a change.

    • Vito R.

      It’s pretty terrible. Apple Pay is a first gen product and it is much simpler. No reason RBC has to be that much more of a hassle.

    • Vito R.

      Agreed. The nerds like RBC wallet because it doesn’t need an NFC SIM card, not because it’s a good solution. It’s actually pretty terrible – but it’s their only option.

  • Leo Perry

    This is what the industry needs: an open, universal standard that is administered by the organization already responsible for electronic payments. Apple Pay and Android Pay should be dropped in favour of this from Interac. It is a lot easier for Interac to oversee the deployment of tap and pay since it is already associated with all of the banks, whereas Apple and Google will have to chase down licensing agreements with individual institutions.

    • It’s Me

      Except that this is almost identical to the tokenization services that Apple Pay and Samsung Pay (and Android Pay) use from Mastercard/Visa. It’s still up to the OEM in how the implement the security (hardware secure enclave like Apple/Samsung or software/cloud HCE like Android). It will also still likely be up to the individual banks as to which OEMs/platforms they partner with.

      No reason to expect this is a magic bullet. In fact, it appears to be just another option, but focused on debit instead of credit.

    • Freddie

      No, what needs to happen is Google and Apple need to work with Interac to get Interac support into Android Pay and Apple Pay. That way, it will work on any Android or Apple phone, using the apps that come with those phones, with any Interac-enabled debit card.

      The problem with mobile payments in Canada right now is that it’s split across umpteen different apps from a bazillion different banks, and only works with some phones on some carriers.

      SureTap Wallet is CIBC-only on Telus, and Rogers-based MasterCard on Rogers (no idea about Bell). RBC banking app only works with RBC accounts. ScotiaBank banking app only works with ScotiaBank accounts. Apple Pay only works with certain credit cards. Android Pay doesn’t work in Canada. There’s a handful of other bank-specific apps. It’s a mess.

      Just add Interac support to Android Pay and Apple Pay and be done with it. That way, any debit card that works with an Interac terminal (aka *ALL* of them) will work.

      Just make the app work like Interac Flash already works on debit cards and be done with it.

  • Gregg Wilson

    OK, now let’s get EVERY retailer on board with the NFC terminals for debit tap to pay! I still run into LOTS of places that I have to insert my card. Until every retailer is forced to install the NFC terminals and turn them on, I will always have my debit card on me.

    • It’s going to be a long, long time before you can use just your phone. And not just because of terminals that don’t have NFC (or don’t have it activated).

    • Gregg Wilson

      I can use my phone now. It’s just VERY limited to where I can use it because of what I just said. Only about 5% of retailers where I live have the NFC active on their terminals. It’s really pathetic.

    • rick

      Why – more than 50% of the places I frequent now I can tap with my card.

    • Pigs Can Fly

      I really rather not tap with my debit card (I had the bank disable it) because if someone steals my card they can tap away without a PIN prompt.

    • alexb88

      That’s why there’s zero liability to you if that happens. You’ll just be out until your get refunded, but with the dollar limit per transaction it shouldn’t be too much, especially if you have alerts from your bank when a transaction goes through (I have alerts sent to my phone for any transaction over $20).

  • I really don’t know why it took Interac so long to do this! I would have thought this is a natural extension of what they already do. I guess because they are controlled by the industry (i.e.: the banks) they had wait until they were given permission – meaning the banks didn’t see enough money in it to do it themselves.

    • rick

      figure out how to charge for it. They need their cut as does the bank you use. I’d imagine it wasn’t a technology issue vs how to slice the pie up issue.

  • Mario Gaucher

    I bet that Apple Pay will indirectly benefit from this new system.
    Interac may be the sole provider of debit card access to Apple Pay because of this…

    • It’s Me

      Maybe not. The same banks that formed a cartel explicitly to ensure no single bank dealt with Apple on their own also control Interac, If they are c-blocking Apple now, no reason to think the same banks won’t block them in the future. If/when the banks decide to work with Apple, then they decide to work with Apple. This doesn’t improve those odds. Same goes for Samsung Pay and Android Pay.

    • Mario Gaucher

      code for InteracNetwork has already been found in the iOS 9.2.1 SDK… so I wouldn’t be surprise to see debit card working in the near future. I doubt that debit cards in Apple Pay will be implemented by the bank themselves… Interac is probably the key to have an effective solution that will work.

    • It’s Me

      Very possible that Apple Pay will use this for debit tokenization. But it still comes down to the banks playing ball and agreeing. These same haven’t agreed so far with credit. These same banks control Interac and the agreements they will make.

  • Will Maitner

    Blahblahblah, where is my Apple Pay?

    • MassDeduction

      This has farther reaching potential than Apple Pay, IMO. And something like this could help legitimize Apple Pay, in fact.

    • It’s Me

      Maybe. But Apple, Samsung and Google all have global aspirations. Working with compatibility with what is effectively a single country solution doesn’t really work towards that global goal. Working with Mastercard and Visa, which offer global tokenization platforms and debit services already, would.

    • MassDeduction

      One thing to be aware if is that Interac charges vastly lower fees than Visa Debit, and the other foreign solutions. So it’s in the interests of Canadian consumers to support that option so long as that remains the case.

    • It’s Me

      As long as that remains the case.

      Since the competition bureau has decided to allow interac to run for profit, there’s no guarantee that remains the case for long. Especially if they lock up the market.

  • Raj Singh

    I’m surprised it’s taken them this long. They are leaders in this space. Why give up market share to Apple, Samsung, Android Pay, et cetera. Good to see them get in on the action.

    • It’s Me

      This isn’t really about competing for share from Apple and Samsung and Android. This, as a tokenization service, would be a competitor to other tokenization services, which means MasterCard and Visa.

    • Raj Singh

      Mm, interesting. When I pay for something, I typically use Interac. I figured they would have had a mobile payment platform by now…

    • It’s Me

      Guess it took them longer than visa and MasterCard, but that makes sense with the resources and incentive of a global market that visa and MasterCard have. This might be part of the reason the banks haven’t really allowed any of the main mobile payment platforms, like Apple, Samsung and android, yet. If they allowed it before now, if customers expected debit support it would have to be on visa and Mastercards token platform. I expect now that the banks have their own through interac they will be more willing to sign with these guys with the condition that their token service be used, at least for debit.

  • Gumbopudding

    I liked interact but didn’t like the tap version cause I didn’t trust the whole lost card anybody could use it issue. But with fingerprint and tap combo is why I like all these mobile versions better.

    • It’s Me

      Another advantage, over the card, is that if someone reads the data transmitted by the card, they have you account info. If someone somehow managed to read the transmitted by your phone, they have a useless token associated with your account. They also wouldn’t be able to generate the cryptogram required to tie the phone to the token. It’s just way more secure than a tap and pay card. Tap and pay is almost as bad as mag stripe systems for security, maybe worse because it transmits.

  • jay

    RBC won’t work on a rooted Android…. Lol