Apple Pay VP Explains Why Launch in Canada Was Delayed


The day Canadians have been waiting for has finally arrived: Apple Pay has expanded to Visa and MasterCard with Canadian bank support, no longer limited to American Express cardholders.

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In a lengthy interview with The Financial Post, Apple vice-president of Apple Pay, Jennifer Bailey, explained more about the mobile wallet and also detailed why there was a delay in expanding support here in Canada to our big banks.

Bailey explained Interac integration was one of the major reasons for the delay here, saying “Adding a new network to Apple Pay’s platform takes new work for both Apple and the network itself,” noting “All of the partners — the banks, Apple and the networks — have to build up this new integration and do full testing.”

Back in February, Interac announced the launch of their own Token Service Provider (TSP) for their debit network, which many suspected was preparation for Apple Pay. We now know that was indeed part of the Apple Pay roadmap. Tokenization allows one-time unique encrypted tokens to replace your debit/credit card number when using Apple Pay, adding extra security to the mobile wallet.

Avinash Chidambaram, Interac’s vice president of product and platform development, said TSP was something they’ve been working on for a long time now, saying “We have been working on it for a year and half,” adding “But we have also been working with Apple to educate them on the Canadian market [and] highlight our ubiquity.”

On top of the Interac integration issue, banks also worried about client security and being able to preserve existing client relationships, while also wanting to not have customers choose between Apple and their bank, given the tech giant’s massive brand power, notes the Post.

Also, interchange fees, which provides Apple a small cut from each customer transaction, appears to have been settled. Banks did not comment on financial terms of Apple Pay on Monday, notes the Post.

Bailey went on to say “We designed Apple Pay from the beginning so that the information about your transaction really is between you, your merchant and your issuer,” detailing how “When you pay in store, Apple doesn’t actually see that transaction because the credential is being initiated from your phone to the terminal, up through the network and then once approved it goes back through the payment rails.”

The vice president of Apple Pay also echoed keeping data private was the company’s priority, adding Apple is not building profiles on customers, and is not doing any form of targeted advertising either, when they use the mobile wallet.

Apple customers “have spent billions of dollars in Apple Pay”, says Bailey, noting one million new users are being added each week.

Bailey also credited the excitement Canadians expressed on social media as a sign of how badly we wanted Apple Pay, saying “If you go back and look at social media, it is a great indicator of the excitement and people’s reaction to Apple Pay,” adding “They (reach out) to partner banks saying, ‘Hey we really want you to support Apple Pay.’”

Apple said they are “thrilled” seven of Canada’s leading banks plus the Big Five are supporting Apple Pay.

This morning, RBC and CIBC were the first to support Apple Pay, allowing customers with debit, Visa and MasterCards to use the mobile wallet. TD, Scotiabank and BMO have announced Apple Pay is “coming soon”, with a launch pegged for next month. Scotiabank told us specifically “mid-June”, while BMO said “in the coming weeks”.


  • Bleep Bloop

    “But we have also been working with Apple to educate them on the Canadian market [and] highlight our ubiquity.”

    I’m pretty sure the reason why Apple Pay took so long starts and ends in that sentence.

  • tomm

    President’s choice Mastercard still does not work. I wonder whey they’ll add it.

  • tomm

    Why am I not surprised.
    Thanks Gary.

  • tomm

    Since Costco only accepts Mastercard now, it would be nice to be able to use it. I only have one PC card and it works well for me, certainly it’s not good enough reason to get another credit card.

  • kkritsilas

    Apple is not used to having nation wide banks. They are not common in the US (Citibank and Chase being the only real multi-state banks), so the banking system in Canada, with its 5 nation-wide banks, with Interac as a common payment system, is different from the situation in the US. i”m not sure how it is in the UK or Australia, but I’m sure that there was a lot of back and forth between Apple and the Interac consortium for a long time before Apple “got” the Canadian banking system.

  • KIII

    Gary, has there been any information for how AP will work when we cross the border into the US? (On a hunt for the Pedrocanada ????????????)

  • still waiting on bmo ????

  • It’s Me

    It does indeed. The stuff about the tokenization was key. Apple Pay already has it’s own tokenization system. Interac, being a monopoly, wanted to use theirs instead and needed to “educate” Apple on the fact that as a monopoly owned by the big banks, they had complete power to block Apple Pay for as long as they wanted.

  • einsteinbqat

    Had anyone told me before today that RBC would get Apple Pay before TD, I would I have had told them to stop talking rubbish! LOL ????

  • Cornfed710


  • DaveB

    Rubbish – they’ve had Apple Pay in the UK for a while now and they have several national banks.
    Also I can maybe see that it took a while to integrate Interac, but why did they have to hold back credit cards in the meantime? I’m sure many of us would have been happier to have CC support a year ago and then let Interac catch up, rather than hold off until they could launch together.
    And what about the other banks (e.g. CapitalOne), why couldn’t they launch with Apple Pay before now if Interac was the holdup?

  • DaveB

    I think you nailed it.
    Now I’m curious about the other thread this week about having to delete & re-add your Amex card (I got that e-mail). Do you think they had to change the tokenization to such a degree that Amex had to change & fall in line too? That would really be salt in the wound for them (not that I really care – I don’t like Amex anyway).

  • It’s Me

    Could be, don’t really know. Could just as easily have been Amex’s choice to not be the outlier now that the Interac system is a fait accompli. Or maybe it was unrelated.

  • xeronine992

    For credit it works like you’d expect. Of course, you’re limited to where you can use it. Though, if you have a US Apple ID and can download the Speedpass+ app you can Apple Pay at the pump at Exxon.

    I’m not sure how debit would work. You may get dinged for using it like you would if you used the physical card.

  • kkritsilas

    Because the banks control the vast majority of the credit cards and the payment systems, and Interac. American Express did have Apple Pay before today’s announcement. The other credit cards not directly linked to the Big 5 banks could have, if they had wished to. ATB could have as well, but they all chose to wait on Interac. Why? Ask them.

    When is the last time you saw a non-Interac payment terminal in Canada? There may be non-Interac payment terminals, but I doubt that any merchant in Canada would pay to get one.

  • Damn you TD, damn you!

  • Francis Underwood

    Why would Interac use Apple’s tokenization service? If Apple pay is here you can bet they’ll bring in android pay at some point and why would they use two separate tokenization services instead of standing up their own?

  • It’s Me

    Except that it had nothing, at all, to do with Interac using Apple service. It was whether Apple Pay would use Apple’s service or Interac’s. Nothing to do with Android either.