Merchants and small business owners have received letters from the country’s largest payment processor advising them they will be auto­mati­cally enrolled in the new Visa debit program unless they take action to opt out.

Small business leaders are outraged and likened the tactic to negative optioning, saying it is one of several complaints they’re hearing about the way the new Visa product is being introduced into Canada’s $168-billion debit market.

“These seem like incredibly murky and unfair business practices,” said Dan Kelly, vice-president with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, referring to the letter from Moneris Solutions advising them the new microchip enabled payment terminals the merchants had installed were also equipped to handled Visa debit.


The merchant is then asked to call or go online if they want to decline the new Visa debit service.

Moneris says it has no choice but to offer its merchant customers the option of opting out, since the way Visa designed the network both Visa’s credit and debit products are bundled together.

Visa Canada confirmed the new terminals come equipped to handle Visa debit, but it wants merchants to have the choice whether to accept it or not.