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Credit card code doesn't impress everyone

There may not have been any suprises Friday in Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's long-awaited code of conduct for the credit and debit card markets, but that doesn't mean it didn't ruffle feathers on Bay Street.

The code won cheers from retailers, who say it will help to protect them from the rising costs of accepting plastic.

"Today's announcement is an important win for both merchants and their customers," says David Wilkes, senior vice-president at the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors.

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But credit card giant Visa Canada is less than impressed.

"Visa is concerned that [the code]does not go far enough in creating an environment that encourages meaningful competition in the Canadian payments arena, and favours merchants at the expense of consumers," the company said in a news release. "We look forward to meeting with the Minister of Finance to ask for clarification on specific details of today's announcement, and to reiterate our position that the government should work towards a framework that promotes competition and innovation, provides consumer choice, and encourages economic growth through the expansion of digital currency."

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The code also has implications for Bank of Montreal, which has already sent many of its customers debit cards that work on two Canadian systems: Interac's and MasterCard's Maestro network. That's outlawed under the one change that Mr. Flaherty made to the code Friday, which says you can't have competing applications on one debit card.

In a news release, BMO said it will abide by the code. And it noted that BMO customers can still use the Maestro debit network to pay at stores in the U.S. and elsewhere.

"We believe we will not have to reissue cards," a spokesman for BMO said.

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