September 9, 2014 / 9:34 PM / 5 years ago

Canadian Tire takes its 56-year-old paper 'money' into digital era

People walk out of a Canadian Tire Store that is located by a Mark's clothing store, which is owned by Canadian Tire Corporation in Toronto, May 8, 2014. Bank of Nova Scotia will buy 20 percent of Canadian Tire Corp Ltd's financial services business for C$500 million ($459 million) in cash, the companies said on Thursday. REUTERS/Mark Blinch (CANADA - Tags: BUSINESS) - RTR3OCRF

TORONTO (Reuters) - Canadian Tire Corp said on Tuesday it will take the store’s famous paper “money” into the digital era as it looks to better compete with deep-pocketed U.S. chains expanding their presence in Canada.

Started in 1958, Canadian Tire money is actually a store coupon that resembles cash and offered to customers with their change. Valued between five Canadian cents and C$2.00 ($1.82), it can then be redeemed for future purchases.

The low-tech loyalty program has become something of a Canadian institution, with the alternative currency tucked away in wallets and purses, glove compartments and junk drawers across the country. The retailer says some C$1 billion worth of Canadian Tire “money” has been issued since its inception.

Canadian Tire, which sells automotive, household and leisure products, said the loyalty program will now be available digitally, such as through an app, which will allow the retailer to better track customer data.

The change comes at a time when domestic retailers, trying to keep pace with retail giants like Wal-Mart Stores Inc and, are investing heavily in high-tech tools to try to remain competitive.

Reporting by Solarina Ho; Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson and Grant McCool

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