The head of Visa Canada chose a business audience in Toronto yesterday to test the sales pitch he plans to deliver next month in Ottawa: Don’t regulate the debit and credit card industry.

While acknowledging that growing complaints about the industry has led to a Competition Bureau investigation and Senate hearings calling for caps on fees and rates, Tim Wilson said more government involvement would ultimately stifle innovation and choice.

As an example, he cited Visa’s plans to enter Canada’s debit market as early as this fall with its own branded product in competition with the bank-owned Interac system.

Although Visa debit cards would cost a bit more to process than Interac cards, Wilson said they would also offer more benefits, including increased security, lower payment risk, and more opportunities to shop online and outside Canada.

But the Retail Council of Canada has said such cards could cost two or three times as much to handle, raising the average fee from six cents per transaction to between 12 and 17 cents.

“His idea of competition is higher prices, not lower prices,” said Diane Brisebois, the retail council’s president and chief executive.