OTTAWA/TORONTO -- Many Canadians have watched from the sidelines as consumers elsewhere were tapping into their smartphones to buy just about anything.
There are now signs so-called "mobile wallets" technology is on its way, and you'll be able to use it with existing retail technology.
The Canadian Bankers Association said Monday commercial banks and credit unions have agreed to a set of "voluntary, secure, open guidelines" for credit card and debit card payments via mobiles.
"By developing a set of guidelines that all participants in the payments marketplace can work within, the goal is to ensure safety, security and ease of use for merchants and consumers while allowing for innovation and competition among market participants," the association said in a statement.
The agreement will eventually mean credit and debt data will be embedded in mobile devices, eliminating the need to use plastic cards for retail purchases. Mobile payment schemes are widely used in the United States, Europe and Asia.
The Canadian payments system, which handles the clearing and settlement of trillions of dollars of transactions a year, is regarded as safe and secure, but critics worry it's falling behind the rest of the world technologically. A recent report from a federal task force formed in 2010 to review the matter warned "unless Canada develops a modern digital-payment system, Canadians will be unable to fully engage in the digital economy of the 21st century" and may suffer a lower standard of living.
It remains to be seen how mobile payments will evolve now the guidelines are in place, but "there's all kinds of ways this will come together, whether (by) mobile wallet or other payment applications," said Stephen Gardiner, a communications and high-tech consultant with Accenture in Toronto.
The guidelines are "a way for the financial institutions, merchants and telecoms and others to be able to come together to provide a safe and (robust) payment experience that will drive user choice and usability," Gardiner said.
Today, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and Rogers Communications are expected to announce one of the first mobile ventures utilizing the new CBA rules.
Iain Grant, a telecom analyst at SeaBoard Group, said smartphones first need to be equipped with near field communication, a technology that allows consumers to tap or swipe their phones against terminals to pay for goods. Some mobile devices already come with NFC capability. Grant said it could take five years before they are widely available.
-- Postmedia News / The Canadian Press
"We look forward to working with the fed- eral government on adaptations to the code of conduct to reflect emerging issues related to mobile payments.
"The guidelines provide a common framework for how mobile payments capabilities can work with existing payments systems such as contactless readers, which are already widely installed across Canada."
The new payment guidelines could also open up new revenue opportunities for telecom companies, while allowing banks to expand their range of service to customers.
"Inter-operability" between the mobile-network operators -- such as Rogers Communications Inc., Bell Canada, Telus Inc., Public Mobile, Wind and Videotron -- and payment networks such as Visa, MasterCard and Interac "is a key objective for these guidelines," according to a background document accompanying Monday's announcement.
On Tuesday, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and Rogers Communications are expected to announce one of the first mobile ventures utilizing the new CBA rules.
Iain Grant, a telecom analyst at SeaBoard Group, said smartphones first need to be equipped with Near Field Communication, a technology that allows consumers to tap or swipe their phones against terminals to pay for goods.
Some mobile devices already come with NFC capability.
However, Grant said it could take five years before they are widely available.
-- Postmedia News with files from The Canadian Press