The Interac Association, which runs Canada's main payments network for automated teller machines and debit transactions, is discussing with the federal government becoming a for-profit entity.

The association may restructure itself to compete with credit card companies such as Visa Inc. that are trying to increase their share of the country's debit market, the Globe and Mail reported Monday.

Interac was created in the mid-1980s by large Canadian banks and Desjardins Group and was made available to retailers in 1994 to let customers pay with debit cards. Interac agreed with the Competition Bureau in 1996 that it can only charge fees that cover its costs.

The association is now discussing amendments to that agreement to adjust to rapid changes in the market, said Interac's chief executive, Mark O'Connell. All options are being considered, including an initial public offering of shares, he said.

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