Interac Debit 101: The Ultimate Guide for Small Business

Table of Contents


What is Interac Debit?

Interac Debit is a secure and convenient payment option that allows your customers to make purchases securely and conveniently with funds directly from their bank account. Many Interac Debit cards include a feature called Interac Flash, which is a contactless enhancement that allows Canadians to pay by tapping their card at contactless enabled point-of-sale readers.

Canadians have been using Interac Debit for more than 25 years, and today it’s the country’s preferred payment method. In fact, Interac Debit transactions account for 56 percent of card transactions in Canada, and more people pay using Interac Debit than cash or cheque.

Interac Debit transactions account for 56 percent of card transactions in Canada.

Why should I accept Interac Debit?

Interac Debit payments are better for your business for three key reasons: they’re prevalent, secure, and convenient. Let’s dive a little deeper.


Interac Debit is the most popular form of payment in Canada. In 2018, there were nearly 30 million active debit cards in Canada—up from 24.8 million in 2015. Interac Debit transactions now account for more than half of all card transactions in Canada, and more people are paying with Interac Debit than cash or cheque.


Thanks to advances in chip and pin technology, Interac debit card fraud has fallen by more than 90 percent since 2010. All ABMs, Interac debit cards and POS terminals have converted to chip, which means Interac debit cards are protected from fraud tactics like counterfeiting, transaction replay and card-not-present transactions.

In the instance that a fraudster does get the better of you, you won’t be liable for losses resulting from circumstances beyond your control when you use Interac Debit, Interac e-Transfer, Interac Debit Contactless Payments and Interac Debit Commerce Payments. Interac’s zero liability policy also includes losses resulting from technical errors and system problems.


As a merchant, it’s important to accept the payment types that Canadian customers most prefer. Interac Debit pulls directly from customers’ bank accounts so it helps them avoid overspending and Interac Flash makes it easy for customers to tap and go. These convenience factors for customers makes Interac Debit convenient for merchants too – say goodbye to chargebacks and say hello to quicker-moving lines.

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How to Accept Interac Debit Payments

Accepting Interac Debit cards in person

There are many ways that Interac helps customers pay for goods or services in person:

Interac Debit
When you make a purchase using Interac Debit, the merchant will enter your purchase amount into the point-of-sale (POS) terminal. Once the customer inserts their debit card in the chip card reader, will alert them how to complete the transaction. The prompts are as follows:

-Confirm the transaction amount
-Select the chequing or savings account from which you wish your purchase debited
-Enter your Personal Identification Number (PIN)
-Provide a final confirmation to send the transaction request for approval.

The debit request passes through the Interac network and is authenticated, and the required funds for purchase get verified by the customer’s financial institution. Upon completion of the transaction, the merchant will provide the customer with a debit payment receipt for their records.

Interac Debit Contactless Payments
Interac Debit Contactless Payments is a contactless debit solution that allows customers to make purchases quickly and securely by holding their Interac Debit-enabled bank card or mobile device with Apple Pay or Google Pay near a payment reader at checkout. There are no transaction limits, but for transactions over $250, the card must be inserted. To accept Interac Debit Contactless Payments, you must have an contactless enabled reader like the Square reader for contactless and chip.

Apple Pay with Interac

Interac e-Transfer
Interac e-Transfer is a convenient way to transfer money between bank accounts. It’s often used for things like paying someone for your share of a group trip, making a large purchase or paying rent to your landlord.

All you need to accept an Interac e-Transfer is an email address or mobile phone number and a mobile or online banking account at a participating bank in Canada. Once you’re notified of payment, you can access the funds almost immediately. If you don’t bank online, you can register with your bank account number on Interac’s secure website and funds will be available in 4 to 6 working days.

The transaction limit for Interac e-Transfers are set by each financial institution so your customers will have to contact their bank directly to find out what their limit is.

Accepting Interac Debit e-Commerce Payments

Like Interac’s other payment options, Interac Debit for Online Payments allows customers to safely pay for goods and services through your website, directly from their bank account (if they bank online). Many studies show consumers are worried about sharing financial details with online merchants—Interac Debit Commerce Payments helps to alleviate these concerns.

Interac Debit online payments redirect customers to their financial institution’s online banking portal to authorize the payment and then is returned to the merchants website.

When you choose to pay with Interac Debit for online payments, the online merchant’s checkout page will redirect the customer to the Interac online gateway page, prompting the customer to select their financial institution. Then, the customer will login to online banking and select the account they want to pay from. Finally, they’ll confirm the payment amount. Once they confirm the payment through their bank’s secure online banking, they will be returned to the merchant’s checkout confirmation page, where their order will be processed.

Another option for shopping on the web or making payments in your mobile apps is using Interac Debit for Apple Pay or Google Pay. When you choose to pay with Interac Debit for Apple Pay or Google Pay you simply load your debit card onto your mobile wallet and you are able to pay in a few easy steps with Apple Pay or Google Pay at participating merchant mobile apps or websites.

Complete list of Interac products

  • Interac Debit - Interac Debit transactions move money electronically and in real time between the customer’s bank and the merchant.
  • Interac Debit Contactless Payments- Interac Debit Contactless Payments allows customers to make a contactless payment by holding their card over an contactless enabled terminal.
  • Interac e-Transfer - Interac e-Transfer allows anyone with an email address or mobile phone number and Canadian bank account to send or receive money. Interac e-Transfer is available to both personal and business accounts.
  • Interac Debit ABM - Interac Debit ABM lets card holders use a PIN to withdraw money from any Canadian ABM, 24 hours a day.
  • Interac Debit for Apple Pay or Google Pay – Allows your customers to easily pay via their Apple Pay or Google Pay at particpating merchant mobile apps/websites.
  • Interac Debit for Online Payments – Interac Debit for online payments gives customers an alternative way to pay securely online with funds withdrawn directly from their bank account.
  • Interac Cross-Border Debit (International Services) - Interac also offers Cross-Border Debit service, which allows Canadians to shop at participating United States retailers or to receive cash back at all supermarkets and most pharmacies.


Five Frequently Asked Questions About Interac Debit

What is an IDP purchase?

An IDP purchase is a purchase made using Interac Direct Payment.

How do I know if my debit card is co-branded with Interac?

Look for the Interac logo in the bottom right corner of your physical card or in your mobile wallet or app. If your debit card is enabled for Interac Flash (contactless debit), you’ll also find a contactless symbol (below) on the front or the back of the card.

contactless symbol

Using credit cards vs. Interac Debit online

To send an Interac e-Transfer, all you need is an email address, online access to your bank account at a participating financial institution and the email address or mobile phone number of the person that you are sending money to.

Is there an Interac US equivalent?

In the U.S., debit cards are issued by banks or credit unions—like in Canada—and co-branded by Visa or Mastercard.

What’s the best way to send money from the US to Canada?

The best way to send money from the U.S. to Canada is to use a bank transfer.