Global Telecommunication Solutions Inc., Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, and a Canadian telephone company will offer a long- distance calling card that would be activated at point of sale terminals.
Long-distance calling has become one of the most popular uses of stored value cards. This plan would give consumers and merchants greater flexibility by offering cards in any dollar amount the customer wishes.
The cards, bearing magnetic stripes, will be issued by Global Telecommunication, a New York-based marketer of prepaid phone cards.
A 30-day pilot program at 12 merchant locations in eight Canadian provinces is scheduled to start Oct. 28. A rollout to 150 locations is expected to follow.
Most prepaid phone cards come in predetermined denominations, such as $5, $10, and $20. Canadian consumers would be able to buy a blank GTS card and load it with any value they choose, paying the sales agent with cash, check, credit card, or debit card.
The new phone card would be swiped through Canadian Imperial's point of sale terminals, and the Global system would record the value. If customers wish to add value, they could return to the merchant to replenish the long- distance calling time.
Joe Clark, president of Global's Canadian unit, said the cards will be more convenient for consumers, who now add value to prepaid phone cards by telephone, using credit cards.
"Some people don't want to pull out a credit card and enter that information," he said.
As the project progresses, the partners plan to add features such as loyalty programs that would reward customers with free long-distance time. In the future, the phone cards could be used to purchase other goods and services, the partners said.
Mr. Clark, an ex-banker, and Global Telecommunication Solutions president John McCabe, a former Natwest Bank executive, developed the program and approached Canadian Imperial.
"We're continually extending and upgrading our merchant relationships," said Jordan Cohen, general manager, point of sale marketing for the $190 billion-asset Toronto bank.
The cards will generate interchange income for the bank, though pricing is still being negotiated.
Canadian Imperial will remain behind the scenes, offering its point of sale network and marketing to its merchant base. Global will market and manufacture the cards, which will carry its logo. Manitoba Telephone System will provide long-distance services.