MasterCard Canada is holding discussions with an undisclosed number of the country's banks in an attempt to persuade them to offer a Maestro-branded card that would compete in Canada's PIN-debit market, which is expected to become much more competitive in a few years. Maestro is MasterCard Worldwide's PIN-debit system that more than 652 million cardholders use in more than 100 countries. MasterCard Canada, which has not set a date as to when it will enter Canada's PIN-debit market, would compete with the Interac Association, which is the only payments network that currently supports PIN-debit cards in Canada. The market for PIN-debit card issuance, however, is getting crowded for Canada. Visa Canada announced that it is attempting to persuade banks to issue a "co-badged" PIN-debit card that would contain both a microchip and a magnetic stripe. Following a recent speech at the Economic Club of Toronto, Tim Wilson, head of Visa Canada, said he hopes a bank will begin offering Visa co-badged PIN-debit card this fall. MasterCard Canada's Maestro PIN-debit also will have both a microchip and a magnetic stripe. "As Canada moves ahead with implementation of the chip, the cards will continue to carry magnetic strips to use in environments that don't accept chip, such as in the U.S.," a MasterCard Canada spokesman tells ATM&Debit News, a CardLine sister publication. Many of Canada's point-of-sale terminals already accept chip cards. Several years ago, the country's payment networks announced they want all of Canada's point-of-sale terminals to be chip-enabled by 2012. MasterCard Canada hopes Canadian banks will begin issuing Maestro PIN-debit cards when MasterCard completes an upgrade of merchant payment terminals that enable debit transactions to move on either MasterCard, Interac and Visa debit network switches.

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