Task force to study Canada's payment system

Fri Jun 18, 2010 6:29pm EDT
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VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Canada has established a task force to review the country's payments system in the face of rapidly changing technology for things such as credit cards, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said on Friday.

The independent task force will look at issues ranging from the Bank of Canada's roll in the oversight of payments to whether the country still needs a one-cent coin. It will report back by the end of next year.

Technology is rapidly changing how Canadians pay for goods and services, and it is time to ensure regulations keep pace with the changes to ensure new competitive ideas are allowed and consumers protected, Flaherty said.

"Today, Canadians can pay for things in a bewildering number of ways, even by tapping a cellphone against a scanner ... The wallet may some day be obsolete," Flaherty told an industry conference in Vancouver.

The government announced plans in this year's budget to review the payments system.

Task force chairwoman Patricia Meredith said the last comprehensive review of payment system regulations took place over a decade ago, before many of the electronic and wireless systems in use today were invented.

Meredith said it was far too early to say if the task force would make a recommendations on coins, but a review of the future of the penny, and its possible elimination, is within its mandate.

"Many countries have done that. It's a possibility," Meredith said.

Guy Legault, president of the Canadian Payments Association, said his organization welcomed the review.