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Nov 15 Media Release

First prepaid VISA® gift cards introduced in Canada

Vancouver, BC, November 15, 2005 – Tapping a $2.4 billion industry, prepaid VISA cards are now available in Canada with the launch of a series of gift cards by a Vancouver-based credit union and its national subsidiary.

Vancity, Canada’s largest credit union and Citizens Bank of Canada, its virtual bank subsidiary are introducing six prepaid VISA gift cards in time for the holidays. Four of the cards are in partnership with well-known Canadian companies and two are Vancity and Citizens Bank branded gift cards.

The prepaid VISA gift cards include: Citizens Bank’s West Edmonton Mall Gift Card; Solo Mobile Gift Card; TravelMoney card with the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA); Michelin Gift Card; and now, with the holiday season on its way, the launch of the Citizens Bank Gift Card and the Vancity mytreat Gift Card.

Accepted at any merchant in the world that takes VISA cards electronically, all the cards offer the convenience of a traditional gift card without the restrictions on where they can be redeemed, making them the only VISA gift cards available in Canada to offer this flexibility.

Most cards can be loaded for any amount ranging from $25 to $500. If lost they can be replaced. Online purchases are allowed and purchases can be made in any currency and will be converted to Canadian dollars just like a regular credit card transaction.

A first in Canada, research shows gift card market potential in Canada to be worth $2.4 billion. In British Columbia alone the market is estimated to be worth approximately $400 million and expected to grow 20 per cent to $690 million by 2008.

“Our strategy is to always be the first and the only one in the market as much as possible. We are relatively small and nimble so we have the flexibility to try new things,” says Richard Robins, product marketing manager for Vancity Visa.

Robins is convinced that the prepaid VISA card is a product whose time has come. He says customers have been asking for them, companies continue to be interested in co-branding opportunities, and some organizations have already placed large orders for the cards as a way to treat employees this holiday season.

“We believe that these cards will keep people happy and out of the ‘returns’ lines this holiday,” Robins says.

Citizens Bank gift cards can be purchased by calling the Visa centre at 604-877-4999 and 1-800-611-VISA (8472). The Vancity mytreat gift card is available to Vancity members and non-members in Vancity branches. For locations and business hours, please visit

Vancity is the largest credit union in Canada -- and the third largest in North America -- with assets of more than $10.5 billion, 315,000 members, and 43 branches throughout Greater Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and Victoria. Vancity owns Citizens Bank of Canada, serving members across the country 24-7 by telephone and Internet. Vancity and its subsidiaries are guided by a commitment to corporate social responsibility, and to improve the quality of life in its communities.