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.


Minster of Finance Welcomes Visa & Master Card Proposals

Posted on November 19, 2014

On November 4th, 2014, the Honorable Joe Oliver, Minister of Finance of Canada, issued a statement regarding credit card processing fees.


Both Visa and MasterCard voluntarily submitted separate proposals to reduce the credit card fees associated with processing transactions.


The proposals were made to reduce fees to an average effective rate of 1.50% (currently around 1.59%) for the next five years. This reduction would represent an approximate 10% in credit card fees, resulting in lower costs for merchants and lower prices for consumers.


In summary, the proposals will:


  • Reduce interchange costs associated particularly with non-qualifying cards
  • Ensure that all merchants receive a cost reduction in the hard costs associated with processing transactions
  • Provide a greater reduction for small and medium size businesses, including charities
  • Require an annual review by a third party to maintain compliance to these standards


This reduction will apply automatically on your processing statements no later than April 2015. If Visa and MasterCard fail to comply to these new standards and commitments, the government will work to ensure that costs are kept low for consumers and merchants alike.


American express was not part of the credit card probe by the Competition Bureau. It is currently examining further potential changes in Debit and Credit Cards, to be announced in the near future.
For more information on this statement from the Minister of Finance please continue reading here.


A brief history and the end of the famous “magstripe” credit card

Posted on October 29, 2014

Forrest Parry – image source:

For a number of reasons, credit cards are becoming an increasingly more popular form of payment for consumers. With its popularity rising, so has the amount of credit card fraud in the United States. This is partially due to new credit card technology that has not been adopted yet, making the United States one of the most vulnerable and attractive countries for credit card fraud.

October 2015 will be the beginning to the end of credit card fraud as magstripe credit cards are ruled out and replaced by EMV Chip & Pin technology. Before we get into more details, let’s learn about the history of the credit card and magstripe in the United States.

The concept of a credit card dates back to the late 1880’s in Edward Bellamy’s novel “Looking Backward”. Although his concept isn’t actually what a credit card is like today, Bellamy referred to a “credit card” as a card for citizens to spend their government dividend.

It wasn’t until 1921, when something more similar to our current credit card was developed. Charge cards were a concept produced by Western Union, where several companies could accept each other’s cards as a form of payment. An example of this was a gas card, where oil companies could use these cards to sell fuel to automobile owners.

Air Travel Cards, Diners Club, Carte Blanche and the American Express.

In the 1930s, Air Travel Cards were created. Consumers could buy flights and pay for them at a later date against their credit while receiving a discount at the accepting airline.

Ralph Schneider and Frank McNamara developed the first general-purpose payment card called the “Diners Club”. This was then followed by Carte Blanche, and later in 1958, American Express created the worldwide credit card network.

During the same time, Bank of America launched BankAmericard, which became the first successful modern credit card. By 1977 its name changed and Visa was born.

In 1960 however, prior to the creation of Visa, an IBM engineer by the name of Forrest Parry was developing a new ID card for the CIA. His idea was to have a tiny amount of data stored on each ID card in a half inch wide piece of magnetic tape. The first iteration was actually scotch tapped to a plastic card. When that turned to be unfavorable, Parry’s wife tried ironing the magnetic strip onto the plastic card which bonded the two materials, thus creating the magstripe!

Magstripes were quickly adopted by credit card companies to store all the information needed to conduct a transaction: account number, expiration date, and the CCV code.

50 years later, counterfeiters and scammers have developed an expertise in stealing this valuable information – 2014 being the year of the breach.

With new initiatives to retire the magstripe in the United States, this mastery of credit card fraud will come to an end. Some experts believe that by 2020, magstripes will be hard to come by.

A more modern credit card technology has been around for years and in light of recent credit card breaches; the US will finally adopt this technology. This card technology, the Europay, MasterCard and Visa Chip and PIN has logic in it that prevents fraud experts from copying and stealing cardholder data.

To put things into perspective, since the UK deployed EMV card in 2004, overall card fraud fell by a huge 32% by 2011 according to the UK Card Association.

As more customers and merchants adopt new technology, it will be harder and hard for fraudsters to steal customer data.

Not only do we have the power to prevent fraud by adopting new tech, Visa and Apple are investing in new payment tech initiatives that should make payments easier to make, safer and secure.

This wont necessarily mark the absolute end for credit card fraud, but the death of the magstripe will be a huge step forward.

The Oct 2015 payments “Liability Shift”. What it means for merchants

Posted on October 15, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 5.56.05 PM

On October 2015, exactly one year from now, the deadline for implementing Chip & PIN will come. This deadline had been called the “Liability Shift” by popular media sources.

Should you miss this deadline for the “Liability Shift” and continue to use payment systems without EMV technology, you are at risk of severe consequences should fraud occur. By next year, the liability for the costs associated with credit card fraud will fall on the entity using out of date technology. According to, this liability is estimated to total more than $10 billion.


So what does this mean for merchants post liability shift?


If a merchant is still using “swipe” technology and a customer is using a Chip & PIN (up-to-date) card, then that merchant will be liable for any fraud that may have affected their customer.

If the merchant is using Chip & PIN technology, but the customer does not have a new card yet, then the issuing bank will be liable.

Yes, it’s still far enough away for a merchant to update their technology to remove liability and it seems like plenty of time at a micro-level. But…


In the grand scheme of things things could get complicated for providers and merchants alike as every company that accepts payments with a terminal; retailers, service providers, consultants, salons, restaurants, hotels, ski resorts, grocery stores, personal trainers, travel agents, food trucks…etc. must also all update their technology.

For example, as larger retailers will need to update their thousands of stores across the country, acquiring banks could spend most of their resources on these migrations, which could create a backlog for other merchants who need to switch over.


Early adoption of new technology is the ultimate way to avoid being stuck on the “liability shift” waitlist. Prepare for it today.

If customers all decide to start using EMV and grow aware of this issue, it’s possible they might have a negative connotation towards businesses that don’t use EMV Chip & PIN technology.

This may be true if you are in a city that has high volumes of international visitors – foreign visitors are well aware of the technology. For example, EMV has been widely adopted elsewhere in the world. It’s significantly reduced credit card fraud. France claims to have seen an 80% reduction in fraud since implementation.

Avoid this by being proactive and working with a company who will help you migrate to EMV Technology.

Should you have many terminals, integrations or special needs. Consider working with a team of experts to help you create and execute a plan to upgrade your technology. A plan will help you think about everything you need to transition and will make it seamless. Consider your approach, scheduling deployment, and customer education. Often times a phased approach when making a switch is the optimal way to change.

Although the shift might seem like a big change, it shouldn’t impact your business negatively at all. Give us a call – we will find you the best provider that fits your unique business needs.



The Home Depot Breach: What you can do and how to protect your credit card information

Posted on September 23, 2014

As you already may know, on September 8th, 2014, Home Depot confirmed that their data systems were breached which impacts customers who used a credit or debit card at one of their U.S. or Canadian retail stores.


Home Depot also confirmed that the malware used to steal credit and debit cardholder data was eliminated on September 18th. There is also no evidence that debit PIN numbers were compromised or that users who shopped at were impacted.


If you shopped at Home Depot since the month of April 2014 your best bet would be to renew your credit card or debit card that you used.

At a minimum you should monitor your account for strange activity and consider calling Home Depot. Home Depot is offering customers 12 months of free credit monitoring and identity protection services.


For protecting your credit card information in the future, consider these tips:


Quick tip 1: Use mobile payments

Craig Young, a security researcher from Tripwire states “technology that avoids you having your credit card in your hand in a store is safer”.

For example, when you add a credit card to Apple Pay, card numbers are not stored on the device, a unique number is associated with that credit card and is securely stored through encryption on your device. When transactions are made, the device account number instead of your credit card’s data is passed on to validate each transaction.


The drawback is not many retailers have caught on with this technology and only people with an iPhone 6 can use it.


Quick Tip 2: Monitor your credit card account activity

Most banks allow you to login to your account and view transactions made a few days post purchase. If you monitor your account activity every week or so, not only is it easy to see where most of your money is being spent, you’ll be able to identify strange transactions should it ever happen to you.

Most of the time, Thieves will use your card to charge for smaller amounts to test if the card works and is monitored or not. They also may be stealing small amounts from millions of cards looking for a bigger payout.


Credit cards are without a doubt the easiest way to pay. Merchants owe a responsibility to their customers to protect their data. As technology continues to evolve, expect your cardholder data to be more secure in the future, as it will continue to be a bigger priority for both banks and businesses alike.


Looking for more info on the breach? Check out this great infographic:



What is the cost of a data breach?

Posted on September 16, 2014

In 2013, there were 1,367 confirmed data breaches and 63,437 security incidents in 95 different countries according to Verizon’s 2014 Data Breach Investigations Report. 2013 may be considered as the “year of the retailer breach” as many larger retailers had confirmed large-scale data breaches that risked its customer’s data. Target having suffered the most, and more recently Gmail, Central Utah Clicnic, JP Morgan, Home Depot, and George Mason University have all confirmed breaches.

So what is the actual cost of a data breach?

On a global scale, the Ponemon institute produced some interesting results in their “2013 Cost of Data Breach Study: Global Analysis”.

The report goes into great detail in analyzing business costs associated data breaches including detection, escalation, notification, and post response expenses. It also analyzes the economic impact post breach in terms of diminishing customer trust and confidence.

According to Ponemon, Germany and the US had the most expensive data breaches – with an average per capita cost of a data breach at $199 and $188, respectively.

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The US actually experienced the highest average total cost of data breaches with an average of $5.4 million dollars per company.

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In their analysis, there are seven factors that influence the cost of a data breach. These seven factors include:

  1. The company had an incident management plan
  2. The company had a relevatively strong security posture at the time of the incident
  3. The company met with CISO or an information security professional
  4. Data was not lost due to a third party
  5. The company had a quick response system for notifying victims
  6. The data breach involved stolen items or devices
  7. Consultants were engaged post breach

The three factors that increase the cost of a data breach are: Third Party Error, Lost or Stolen Devices, and Quick notification.

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Based on the Ponemon report, what significantly decreases the cost of a data breach are (see above): consultants engaged, CISO appointment, Incidence response plan, and a strong security posture.

In addition, the report points out that there is a direct relationship between abnormal churn rate of customers (which is what is likely to happen post breach) and higher costs of a data breach. The highest lost business cost due to abnormal customer churn is an average cost of over $3.03 million, which was experienced by US companies.

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To put this into perspective, it’s been nearly a year since Target had its data breach in December 2013, and the incident cost shareholders a whopping $148 million which was partially offset by insurance receivables totaling $38 million.

Preventative measures are the most significant way to reduce your risk and costs associated with a data breach. The more secure your company is, the less likely it would be for important data to be stolen – The ROI is much higher on preventative measures than believing something wont happen to your organization.

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