Canada’s big six banks are negotiating for November Apple Pay launch

Posted on April 21, 2015


Canada’s big six banks are negotiating with Apple and according to the Wall Street Journal, Apple Pay is expected come to Canada in November.

For those who aren’t familiar, Canada’s big six consist of the Royal Bank of Canada, Toronto Dominion Bank, Bank of Montreal, National Bank of Canada, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and the Bank of Nova Scotia.

Not wanting to comment on rumors or speculation from the media, Royal Bank of Canada stated “Apple has not yet announced plans for Apple for the Canadian Market.

Concerned about fees and security flaws, the banks have formed a consortium and hired security consultancy McKinsey & Co to develop a safe security protocol that they can leverage during their negotiations with Apple.

Over the past six months, there have been problems with security that have negatively affected US banks who rushed to roll out Apple Pay. With the rush, they were unable to negotiate any sort of fraud detection process leaving the banks at fault with a difficult situation.

In theory, Apple Pay would prevent fraud because it makes stealing credit and debit card information extremely difficult.

For every transaction, Apple tokenizes the customer’s credit card so that a merchant never actually sees any customer information. This is great for both merchants and customers alike.

The major security flaw is in the way that both Apple Pay and the US banks onboard new credit cards to the system.

The US banks allowed Apple to use Apple’s own proprietary system, which does not ask customers much beyond their basic credit card information. Information that could be used to help banks detect fraud more easily, including phone numbers or addresses is not included in their basic set up.

Because US banks didn’t scrutinize this, some too afraid that they would not be included as one of the initial issuers with Apple Pay, fraud has been difficult to manage.

In addition to the missing customer information that would be helpful for banks to detect fraud, users who encountered fraudulent credit card charges with Apple Pay, were directed to a customer care centre rather than a fraud prevention centre.

The customer care centre’s actually allowed for more fraudulent cards to be approved and used with Apple Pay. Fraudsters in some cases would call the centre alerting them of a trip out of town making these fraudulent transactions look normal.

Although the US banks are responsible for all fraudulent transactions, Apple has stepped in to help work with them to deter fraud. Banks have also recently toughened standards when customers sign up with Apple Pay.

Canadian banks don’t want to make the same mistake, but security protocol isn’t all banks in Canada have to worry about.

Canadian banks are also facing a potential 15 to 25 basis point charge for every credit card transaction through Apple Pay. This is a substantially more expensive than what’s in stock for US banks, who are paying about 15 basis points per transaction.

Canadian banks also are concerned that types of services like Apple Pay lower a banks relationship with its customers as some are deploying their own.

RBC has developed it’s own mobile wallet for Android and Blackberry for its own customers. TD and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce have also worked to provide their customers new technology with UGO Wallet, which stores credit, debit and loyalty cards on smartphones.

Let’s hope for the best as our banks work with Apple to deploy their fantastic mobile payments technology.

Why switching to EMV Chip & PIN is so important

Posted on March 31, 2015

From a merchant perspective, there is a myth that switching over to EMV Chip and PIN is more expensive than swipe and sign.

In some cases, if you own terminals that facilitate EMV, software needs to be bought to manage the PIN, but it’s not really more expensive in the long term.

If you are renting your terminals, the switchover should be seamless and could even save your company money. For example at Kubera, your bottom line is important to us, which is why we do pricing reviews and analyze your business before recommending a solution moving forward.

In both instances, switching from swipe and sign to EMV will reduce your chances and liability for fraud, which in the long run is a cost reducer.

EMV is more secure. The cards are much more difficult to replicate, and EVM terminals authorize payment using an encrypted code from the EMV Chip that cannot be used twice. Cardholders then, have to authenticate the transaction themselves using their PIN (personal identification number).

Another reason to offer EMV is all 10 of the largest credit card issuing banks are on their way to offering EMV compliant credit and debit cards.

A recent study from explains that these 10 credit card issuers expect that the majority of their portfolio will be updated with EMV by the end of 2015.


Most of these cards will also have NFC or near field communication. This makes for extremely efficient and fast payment. Customers enjoy the convenience of this feature and they regularly use it here in Canada.

In October, there will be a shift of liability for the costs associated with the fraud.

Right now, if a card-present transaction is fraudulent using counterfeit cards for example, the liability falls back on the card issuer or payment processor depending on situation.

After October 1st 2015, the liability for card-present fraudulent transactions will be on whichever party is the least EMV-compliant. This could be the issuer, the processor or even the business.

In many cases the cost of fraud will fall back on the merchant as issuing banks and acquirers are on track to be EMV compliant.

Doug Johnson, the vice president of risk management policy for the American Bankers Association expects that about 50% of banks will be transitioned over by October 2015.

Even though every bank may not be compliant, there’s no reason to leave your business at risk for fraud. Especially when it’s typically an easy switch, much easier than that of a major bank.

Target will pay data breach victims $10 million

Thursday March 19th, a federal judge gave approval for a 10 million dollar settlement for the customers who were affected by Target’s data breach in 2013.

“We are pleased to see the process moving forward and look forward to its resolution,” said Molly Snyder, Target spokesperson reported to CBS News on Wednesday.

Target has agreed to pay the proposed $10 million and customers who will be paid back are individual victims who were inconvenienced by the breach. Each breach victim could receive up to $10,000 in damages.

Should any breach victim feel that this settlement is not adequate, they are still able to file objections by the 10th of November, when the final hearing is expected.

This is a great settlement for Target. In order to receive this settlement, victims must complete a claim that will be processed through a dedicated website.

The claim form will ask victims if they conducted a transaction with their debit or credit card in-store or online, between the 27th of November and the 18th of December 2013. It will also include other questions regarding the belief or proof of compromised personal information. Now, consider how complicated this is going to be for consumers to provide this information.

Customers will have to provide evidence that they were inconvenienced by the breach. These include at least one of the following:

  • Unauthorized charges on their debit or credit card
  • Time invested triaging the fraudulent charges
  • Costs associated with addressing fraud
  • Costs associated with hiring a professional to correct their credit
  • Identity protections services
  • Higher interest rates
  • Fees to replace someone’s personal identification

Although the courts have had a difficult time determining how someone can prove that they were harmed by a particular breach, more and more people are becoming increasingly familiar on how to make decisions about these consequences.

Although the settlement is a bit of a plus for Target, the data breach has hit Target with a difficult time. Struggling with Canada, in addition to going through other changes, the breach independently caused a negative effect to their bottom line.

Target estimated that they have lost nearly $250 million in costs associated with the breach. Finally, we can still expect this number to increase, as there are additional claims from three of the major credit card companies.

For more information on the breach visit Target’s data breach FAQ.






Grow your sales with Gift Cards

Posted on February 28, 2015

No matter what business type of retail business you have, it’s a great idea to consider having a gift card program – both egift cards and plastic gift cards.

With a wide range of solutions available, gift cards are a powerful way for businesses to grow their sales. In 2014, $124 billion will be loaded on gift cards in the US, a five percent increase year over year. Although growth in this sector is expected to slow, there is immense opportunity in egift cards that will offset that slower growth.

“The gift card market has moved beyond novelty and is now firmly in the mainstream,” CEB TowerGroup Senior Research Director Brian Riley.

In addition, notable figures from TowerGroup’s research that reflect this growth include open network branded cards, retailer gift cards, restaurants and miscellaneous. Furthermore, open network branded cards increased by $2 billion to $45 billion over 2013-2014. Retailer card volume also saw additional two billion dollar growth year over year for a $41 billion total. Restaurants saw no growth at $19 billion and the miscellaneous segment grew by 1$ billion to $13 billion during this period.

Gift cards are both popular and convenient for customers and “retailers can count on consumers to spend more money on gift cards than their actual face value”. While customers enjoy the convenience, businesses can earn more by having this option available.

While increasing your sales there are several other benefits that make gift cards profitable.

Gift cards allow for smaller businesses to compete with big business.  When it comes to gift giving, consumers consider gift cards. For example, although your customer may prefer your coffee shop, if you don’t have the option, it’s likely they will choose a bigger brand that has a well-established program. Don’t miss this opportunity!

Customers are less sensitive to pricing when they have gift cards. A study conducted by First Data, reported that 72% of gift card shoppers spent more than the original gift card value when making purchases. With this in mind, consider offering your customers free gift cards with a small value. It’s likely that they will overspend, increasing your revenue in the long term.

Gift Cards bring in new business. According to the same study by First Data 11% of gift card receivers never or rarely visited the location of the merchant who sold the gift card. Remember that free gift card you gave away? Maybe that card increased your customer retention or maybe that re-gifted it to someone new, visiting your store for his or her first time.

In addition to the mentioned above, cards create a connection between your customers and your store and can give your business a better image or a sense of “modernity”.

Gift cards are also very customizable, easy to set up and there are various options to choose from that make these programs affordable (profitable).

Interested in learning more about gift cards? Give us a call.

Growing your business with loyalty programs

Posted on February 15, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 10.34.52 PMIf you haven’t considered using a loyalty card platform already, there are plenty of good reasons to get started.

Loyalty programs offer your customers a wide range of benefits while simultaneously allowing you to build a closer connection with your customers.

Over time, your customers will appreciate the rewards they receive from your loyalty program. As they continue to do business with you, your brand can become the top of these consumers’ consideration sets. In the long term, these customers have a greater lifetime value that exceeds customer lifetime value without any loyalty program in place. Typically, businesses that have some sort of loyalty program are more profitable than those with out.

According to Ackroo, 78% of cardholders use loyalty cards every time they shop. So over 3 in every 4 customers that visit your business could benefit from a loyalty program.

Consider your favorite coffee place for example. Let’s say that every time you buy 5 coffees, your 6th coffee is free. It’s likely that this offer would prevent you from spending your money anywhere else and you might end up catching yourself buying more coffee than normal.

Some better examples of loyalty programs include reward dollars, threshold-based loyalty, special & time-based offers.

Reward dollars are great for customers who shop frequently at your location. As they spend money with their loyalty card, they receive a percentage of their total spending back on their card. Customers can then use those reward dollars for future purchases.

Nester’s Market, the grocery chain has this type of program in place. As a frequent shopper, there’s nothing better than realizing you’re able to pay off your groceries for the week when you get to the checkout.

Threshold-based loyalty gives customers’ spending goals where they can collect rewards once they have earned enough points or dollars on their card. These goals are pre-determined by your company.

A good example would be air miles with Aeroplan. Once an Aeroplan customer earns enough points, they are able to redeem these points towards their flights with Air Canada. At times these savings can be significant or even earn you a free flight.

Special and time-based offers are loyalty incentives where your business would offer its customers a special promotion that only loyalty program customers can enjoy.

Best Buy offers events, has limited time offers, and special discounts for its Reward Zone members. Only Reward Zone members can enjoy these special discounts and events. On occasion, their promotions for Reward Zone members can be similar to Boxing Day deals that would normally only happen once a year. Reward Zone customers appreciate this customer service and it’s proven to be a very successful initiative for the brand.

In addition to spending more than an average customer by being a part of your loyalty program, these loyal customers are more likely to promote your business through word of mouth.

At Kubera, we believe strongly in loyalty card programs. We are proud of the benefits and success that our merchants have achieved so far. From our experience, there’s no question that loyalty programs are one of the best ways for businesses to build closer ties with their best customers.


Target, saying goodbye to Canada

Posted on January 28, 2015

On January 15th Target announced its departure from Canada. This means closing all 133 Canadian stores, where Target will incur a $5.4 billion pre-tax loss in their fourth quarter.


Target had several issues when trying to enter the Canadian market.

In addition to the massive breach that is costing the company millions, it opened too many stores all at once, had several smaller stores with mediocre locations, higher perceived pricing, and huge inventory management problems. With its difficulty on the in-store experience, many Canadians gave up on Target all together.

Leaving Canada is no doubt a smart move for the company, as Target Canada didn’t catch on with consumers and they were “losing money every day,” according to Target’s CEO Brian Cornell.

The exit of the American big box will leave a gap in the Canadian retail market for many businesses to fill. This gap includes small and large businesses alike. With Target gone there’s opportunity for these companies to sell their own products and reach more customers: mom-and-pop shops and companies like the Hudson’s Bay Company, Canadian Tire and BestBuy Canada are just a few examples.

There’s also some negative impact to Target’s exit. These include the massive job losses, retailers relying on Target customer overflow, future deals with businesses supplying Target’s inventory, companies who were partnering with Target, and even smaller stores who needed to buy in bulk from Target to supply their own shops. In addition, landlords will also have a difficult time filling the vacant space that Target was leasing.

For example, the Globe and Mail references Cocoa Jewelry Inc., a company that was meant to design an exclusive jewelry line for Target. The company had spent over a year working with Target but couldn’t get their product on Target’s shelves.

So now what?

Target owes money to nearly 1,800 businesses and other agencies for over $5 billion owed.

Who is owed money? Small business, large businesses, the Retail Council of Canada, Revenue Quebec, The Canada Revenue Agency and a long list that is over 44 pages long.

It’s not all bad for Target Corporation. If Target were to stay they could have lost hundreds of millions of dollars every year for some time. If Target had been a more calculated with its approach, they could have saved this disaster and the company’s exit from our market.

Apple Pay Comes To Canada – Soon

Posted on January 12, 2015

Upon its big announcement, Apple Pay was not coming to Canada any time soon. We even tweeted about it last year indicating that it wasn’t expected, as Apple had given no mention of when or if it would come.


But Now Apple Pay will be coming to Canada, sooner than you would expect. 9to5 Mac, a popular tech blog announced that Apple would be headed north of the boarder as soon as March 2015.  

In addition, March 2015 is the date when the Apple Watch is to be announced, but this is unconfirmed.

Canada has a lot going for it with Apple Pay. With the growing popularity of NFC and contactless payments in Canada, and Canada’s more advanced payments infrastructure than that of the US, Canada is actually quite an attractive market where Apple Pay could thrive.

With this news, we’re very interested to see who else will be accepting Apple Pay in the near future here in Canada.

Right now in the US, Apple Pay users can currently make purchases at Foot Locker, McDonalds, Office Depot, Nike, Walgreens, Toys “R” Us, Whole Foods and more.

To make purchases, customers hold their iPhone with their finger activating the Touch ID scanner on the contactless card reader the same way they would a contactless bankcard. Apple does not collect your purchase history therefore your information is quite secure according to Apple.

Canadian iPhone 6 and other Apple device users, get ready to tap and go with Apple Pay this coming March.

Canadian Small Business in Review

Posted on January 5, 2015

With the new ever-growing tech atmosphere, small business does not look the same anymore. For example a small business is not necessarily defined as “a company with fewer than 100 employees” anymore. The infographic below provided by explains this concept and digs further into the numbers that make small business in Canada unique.



Click To Enlarge

Canadian Small Business by the Numbers

Via Salesforce

The 6 best Canadian Credit Cards 2014

Posted on December 19, 2014

What is the best credit card in Canada? With so many options to choose from it can be a difficult to decide which credit card to go with. Canadians with good credit history have the option to choose cash-back cards, low interest-rate cards, rewards cards, business cards, student cards, and travel cards.


All of these credit cards benefit us in different ways, but without the proper research it’s very easy to make a repentant decision. Your bank could offer you a limited time offer or you could be choosing a popular rewards program because it’s popular but in reality it isn’t right for you.


Thankfully has provided a great blog series on what the best credit cards are in 2014. With the 2015 right around the corner we want to provide you with an easy synopsis of 6 cards to help narrow down your choices.



Let’s start with asking ourselves an important question.


When you are choosing a new credit card, ask yourself what type of customer are you?


Low interest

Am I going to be consolidating debt, or carrying a balance forward? If yes, then this is the card for you:


TD Emerald Visa

If you have a good credit rating, the interest rate is lower. estimates that 4.5% is the interest rate for this card.

Annual Fee: $25. Interest Rate: ranges based on credit rating.


I need cash back

Rewards aren’t right for me, is cash back the best option?

Scotia Momentum

This card gives you the highest amount of cash back if you make payments for gas, groceries, drug store purchases, recurring bill payments, and just about anything. Gas and groceries customers receive 4% cash back.

Drug store and recurring bills customers receive 2% cash back.

Customers receive 1% cash back on everything else. Not bad.

Annual Fee: $99. Interest rate: 19.99%



Fly me away

I’m a traveller, would a travel card help offset my travel expenses?

WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard

This card has the highest reward if you spend on it consistently. Customers earn 2% on travel through WestJet and 1.5% back on every other purchase. According to, you’ll have to fly with WestJet at least once a year to get the most out of it.

Annual Fee: $99. Interest Rate: 19.99%



The early adopter

I love shopping at a specific retailer; I need the latest and greatest consumer goods.


Rogers First Rewards MasterCard

2% return on every dollar spent or two points per purchase with a $0 annual fee. This is the best deal you can get. Ironically Rogers owns

Annual Fee: $0. Interest Rate: 19.99%




As a small business owner, what card can give me the best rewards to keep costs low and help my bottom line?


There are two cards worth looking at here, cash-back and travel.

For cash-back:

BMO Premium CashBack MasterCard

Best for vehicle renters, business owners get 3% cash back on Shell gas purchases and when leasing vehicles from select vendors.


Annual Fee: $69. Interest Rate 19.99%


For travel:

CIBC Aventura Visa for Business

Perfect for your traveling sales gig, you can double your rewards by booking flights through CIBC. Even covering the full cost of the flight at times.


Annual fee: $120. Interest Rate: 19.99%



As a student, I need to build credit and keep my debt at a minimum.

CIBC Aventura Visa Card for Students

Let’s face it, being a student ain’t easy. With low annual fees, and rewards for your reading week getaway, this card might be the one for you. Definitely a good idea if you’re trying to build your credit.


Annual fee: $39. Interest Rate 19.99%


That about sums it up. Still not convinced on what card to get? Check out’s full article on top Canadian Credit cards for the full breakdown.




What is MCX and how does it affect consumers?

Posted on November 29, 2014

Via the Verge

A few days after the Apple Pay launch, 40-50 odd retailers shut off Near Field Communication on their terminals to prevent transactions made via Apple Pay. These retailers are part of an association known as the Merchant Customer Exchange, or MCX and include brands like CVS, Walmart, Best Buy, Gap Inc., …etc.

So why would retailers part of the MCX do this?

The goal of MCX is to build better relationships with their customers and truly understand their customers they began working on a competing mobile payments wallet named CurrentC. Although a noble goal, CurrentC won’t be available until 2015 and under the terms of their MCX contractual agreement brands cannot work with competitors to accept payments via mobile device like Apple Pay.

Via The Verge -

Additionally, if these retailers broke their contractual agreement, then they would be fined. This is why companies like CVS or Rite Aid turned off the capability to accept mobile payments via Apple Pay shortly after its launch. It’s also why several brands chose not to support Apple Pay from the beginning.

It’s safe to say that MCX’s decision to prevent NFC-based payment systems from their stores would has not gone well so far. While MXC claims that CurrentC is a “bold challenge” to the current mobile payments landscape but it doesn’t appear to be getting very far with bad reviews on both the iTunes App Store and Google Play.

Blogs like re/code have questioned the exclusivity rule. Even TechCrunch called it a “Clunky attempt to kill Apple Pay and Credit Card Fees”.

Many times anti-competition can be anti-innovative, let’s hope for MCX’s sake and our own that this is not true. The CEO of MCX, Dekkers Davidson does not believe this to be true. He feels that the exclusivity will give the group time to “breathe” for CurrenC’s development.

Although the exclusivity can be difficult for many eager Apple Pay users, Davidson has mentioned that it should end in a number of “months, not years”. Let’s hope for the best in the growth of mobile payments and expect these changes soon.


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