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RBC, CIBC & other Canadian banks launch support for Apple Pay

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Several Canadian banks launched support for Apple Pay on Tuesday, finally opening up the payment platform in the country beyond the limited number of American Express card holders.

Two major banks — the Royal Bank of Canada and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, better known as RBC and CIBC — are among the initial participants, along with ATB Financial and Canadian Tire Financial Services, the Financial Post said. The country's three other majors — TD, Bank of Montreal, and Scotiabank — are expected to sign on in the next few months.

RBC and CIBC are supporting debit cards plus credit cards from Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. Canadian Tire is only supporting credit cards however, while ATB's debit support is due later on.

The Post indicated that Canadian banks have been in talks with Apple for months, and were concerned about preserving both client security and relationships in any deal, along with setting how interchange fees for each transaction would be shared.

Another issue was Interac, a Canadian transactions firm that had to be supported in order for debit cards to work. ATMs in the country, for instance, will typically display the Interac logo prominently and may even be casually referred to as Interac machines. The platform was reportedly one of the big reasons for the delay in expanding Apple Pay in Canada — Interac spent a year and a half developing a new token service provider.

Some people were upset at how long it took for Apple Pay to reach Canada despite the country being closely linked to the U.S. While Apple Pay launched in the U.S. in October 2014, there was no Canadian support until November the next year, and then through American Express — a credit card most Canadians are unlikely to have.