As I was saying, preserving Interac requires greater investment in infrastructure and innovation. This does mean changes to the pricing system for Interac products in a manner that meets the needs of the business but also respects our strategy of being a low-cost provider. This is important.
Without firm numbers, I know that this is a “trust me” statement, and I have faced questions about our intent in pursuing a for-profit status. I've heard clearly the concerns expressed about the potential for excessive profit-taking. I can tell you that we are committed to staying a low-cost provider. In this regard, I offer to make available our financial statements on an annual basis for scrutiny by the Department of Finance, and we are willing to enshrine this commitment. We will stand up and we will be accountable.
Interac needs to change, as you will see on slide 8. I hope this has been well established, but my point here today is that internal changes to our organization are not enough to ensure a healthy debit marketplace in Canada. The Canadian payments system is a national infrastructure and it should be viewed through that lens.
A level playing field is an essential foundation of any competitive market. This committee has heard testimony from all stakeholders about the need for transparency in cardholder choice, in merchant choice, and in having the same basic rules for all players in the game. I echo these sentiments, but unfortunately, this level playing field is not a reality today.
Clear information on service offerings and their associated costs and being able to act on this information with choice should be hallmarks of the Canadian debit market and of competition in this market. They are at the heart of our business model and our strategy. We are going to continue to be upfront with our customers about our service offerings and our fees, and we hope the marketplace can follow this example and provide consumers and merchants with clear and understandable choices.
When given the right foundations, and if this level playing field is in effect, competition can indeed be effective in delivering the best outcomes to all participants. When these foundations are not in place, however, the result will not benefit the users of the system, and Interac will not be successful.
In conclusion, let me restate that we welcome new competition, but we firmly believe that participants should operate on a level playing field and that transparency should be a hallmark of our debit system, where choice is given to its users. Interac competing against the Visas and MasterCards of the world does not mean that we will adopt their strategies. In fact, from consulting with and watching our counterparts from around the world, that is a no win approach. Interac will instead continue to operate true to its Canadian roots, capitalizing on and leveraging our differences, not seeking to eliminate them.
One of the strategic advantages for Interac comes from being a low-cost payment option with per transaction flat-fee pricing. Any changes to the pricing structure will be mindful of those principles, and we are committed to proving that by opening our books to the federal government.
Given the forces at play, however, the change that I have identified must happen. If it doesn't, if we are not allowed to compete on a level playing field with these U.S. competitors, Canada's only payment brand and network will be hobbled, and we will not able to provide Canadians with the services they demand and deserve.
Thank you very much.