Bank of Nova Scotia and Visa Canada said they are expanding their chip card trial by issuing multipurpose cards to students of Georgian College. The announcement last week coincided with a decision to continue the Visa Cash program in Barrie, Ontario, which Scotiabank launched a year ago this month.
Visa has put considerable effort into Barrie, one of about 70 such trials it has under way around the world, as a counterweight to Mondex Canada's similar showcase in the university town of Guelph, Ontario.
Bank of Nova Scotia and the other major Canadian banks-most of them Visa credit card issuers-are supporting MasterCard-controlled Mondex, but Scotiabank also tested Visa Cash to keep its options open.
Bob Lounsbury, the bank's senior vice president of card products and marketing, said Barrie has "exceeded our expectations," with 400 merchants and with cards in the hands of 25,000 people, or almost one-third of the local population.
Students at Georgian College's Barrie, Orillia, and Owen Sound campuses will be getting the chip cards for identification purposes, library access, purchases of meals and school supplies, bus rides, and shopping around town. The cards will be distributed at registration and should be in the hands of 5,000 full-time students by Sept. 30.
Ease of distribution and acceptance are "reasons the Barrie trial is proving so successful," said Visa Canada president Derek Fry. The Georgian College introduction "is important because it points to the future where multipurpose chip cards will be widely used by consumers."