Mondex has completed its Canadian sweep by signing Bank of Nova Scotia.

The Toronto-based bank was the only one of the top five nationwide commercial banks that had not made a Mondex commitment by May 21, when Mondex Canada declared that it had achieved near unanimity among major financial institutions.

The country's two largest, Royal Bank and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, were charter members of the Mondex International ownership group last year. Like most of the major Canadian institutions, they are principally Visa credit card issuers but retained enthusiasm for Mondex even after MasterCard International bought 51% of the venture earlier this year.

Hongkong Bank of Canada and Credit Union Central, early supporters of the Mondex program, were joined last month by two more of the "big five"- Bank of Montreal and Toronto-Dominion Bank-as well as Canada Trust, the Caisses Desjardins of Quebec, and National Bank of Canada.

Mondex Canada officials were confident all along that $127 billion-asset Bank of Nova Scotia, known as Scotiabank, would join the fold.

"Mondex is now represented by all major financial institutions in Canada and is well positioned to achieve great success as a new payment system," the Mondex Canada franchise said last week.

Like Toronto-Dominion, Scotiabank is not renouncing its involvement with the competing Visa Cash program. It is proceeding with plans to launch a 10,000-card, Visa-branded stored-value trial in Barrie, Ontario.

"Scotiabank has joined Mondex because we feel it is in our customers' best interests for us to keep abreast of all emerging chip-market opportunities," said Bob Lounsbury, vice president of card products and marketing.

At the Visa International global directors' meeting in early June in Hawaii, Visa Canada president Derek Fry said the industry will benefit from having two technology alternatives. More than 100,000 transactions have been recorded on Visa Cash in Canada since early 1995. Vancouver City Savings Credit Union is also continuing with a Visa Cash program, Mr. Fry said.

He ascribed Mondex's successful run to a "herding instinct. No one wants to get left out of the game."

But Mondex leaders are saying the battle for Canada is over, and they have won.

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