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					NEW SPECIFICATIONS FOR “IMAGE-FRIENDLY” MICR-ENCODED
GIFT CERTIFICATES AND COUPONS: AN OVERVIEW (January 2008)
The Canadian Payments Association (CPA) has published new specifications for gift
certificates and coupons that are processed through the clearing system. The new
requirements are designed to make these payment items “image-friendly”.

        The specifications, which are set out in the CPA’s Standard 006, apply to coupons and
        gift certificates that are deposited at financial institutions by the businesses that accept
        them. They can generally be identified by the line of special characters printed in
        magnetic ink (MICR) at the bottom, similar to cheques.
        Coupons and gift certificates that are handled internally by merchants without relying on
        financial institutions to process them through the clearing system are not subject to
        these requirements.
        Businesses that issue items to which the requirements apply are strongly encouraged to
        adopt the new specifications detailed in Standard 006 for their next printing. All MICR-
        encoded coupons and gift certificates printed after September 2, 2008 must comply
        with the new specifications.
        Businesses that issue coupons and gift certificates processed through the clearing
        system should also contact their financial institution to obtain a MICR specification sheet
        for these items and to arrange testing.

This document provides an overview of the main changes. For full details, consult the CPA’s
Standard 006, Part A, which is available on the CPA web site at www.cdnpay.ca.

NOTE: Specifications for Paper Pre-authorized Debits (PADs), which have also been
published in Standard 006, are for the use of financial institutions only. As of September 2008,
all PADs created by other organizations must be entered into the clearing system in electronic
format. Businesses that currently use paper PADs should consult their financial institution to
discuss options for electronic PADs.




New Specifications for Gift Certificates and Store Coupons (January 2008)    Page 1 of 7
                                      GENERAL REQUIREMENTS

  Gift certificates and coupons must comply with all requirements in sections 3 to 5 of
                   CPA Standard 006, Part A, unless otherwise specified.


Paper Quality

             All grades of paper for payment items must meet the paper specifications defined in Section
             3.1 of CPA Standard 006, Part A.

Document Size

             All documents are to be rectangular in shape, and must adhere to the following dimensions:

                 Length

                 Minimum: 15.88 cm (6 ¼”)                    Maximum: 21.59 cm (8 ½”)

                 Depth

                 Minimum: 6.99 cm (2 ¾”)                     Maximum: 9.53 cm (3 ¾”)

MICR Encoding

             The area containing the MICR band measures 1.59 cm (5/8”) from the bottom edge of the
             document.

             The elements of the MICR line must comply with Section 4.4 of CPA Standard 006, Part A.

             All printing other than the prescribed E13B font characters must appear above the MICR
             band. Borders are not permitted within the band (If a top border is printed, it must be
             slightly above the 1.59 cm (5/8”) clear area. No border is to be printed below the MICR
             characters).

             It is strongly recommended that the MICR band remain clear of background screening.




New Specifications for Gift Certificates and Store Coupons (January 2008)                    Page 2 of 7
MANDATORY ELEMENTS ON FRONT
(See Figure 1)

Amount in Figures Field

        The Convenience Amount Rectangle, or Amount in Figures, is to be located within the
        Convenience Amount Scan Area at the right of the gift certificate or store coupon, and is to be
        preceded or followed by a dollar sign. See Sections 5.4.2 and 5.4.3 of Standard 006 for related
        details.

        The dollar sign must have a single solid vertical line through its centre.

        Note that the rectangle may appear white, or may be “imaginary” (i.e. same background as the
        rest of the document).

        If a border or box is printed around the rectangle, it must have a Print Contrast Signal (PCS) of
        no more than 0.30.

        Alphabetic characters are not to be printed in this area.

        Asterisks, if used, shall only be printed immediately preceding the Amount in Figures.

        There must also be a Convenience Amount Clear Area surrounding the Amount in Figures and
        located within the Convenience Amount Scan Area. The Clear Area should be a minimum of
        0.64 cm (1/4”) clear space surrounding the Amount in Figures field, including the dollar sign.

        However, the clear area may be reduced by the minimum amount necessary to accommodate
        the placement of data elements, but shall be at least 0.25 cm (0.1”). This clear area must not
        include any printing, with the exception of a screened background, which is permitted providing
        the maximum PCS of 0.30 is respected.

Payor Name

        The name of the payor (i.e. the coupon or gift certificate issuer) is mandatory. Its position is
        flexible within the “free format” area.

Name of CPA Member

        The CPA member financial institution name shall be printed in a minimum 6 point font and must
        have a minimum PCS of 0.60. Its position is flexible within the “free format” area.

Phrase to Identify the Type of Item

        The words “Gift Certificate” or “Store Coupon” must be printed on the front of the item. As
        there will be some differences between the clearing rules applicable to these items and other
        paper payment items, there is a need to be able to distinguish them clearly from the other items.
        Positioning of the phrase is flexible within the “free format” area.




New Specifications for Gift Certificates and Store Coupons (January 2008)                        Page 3 of 7
MICR Encoding

        All items must be MICR-encoded in accordance with Section 4.4 of Standard 006. They must
        include a Serial Number in the designated area within the MICR line.

        Positioning of MICR characters must be in accordance with the specification sheet of the
        issuer’s financial institution (i.e. the financial institution on which the items are drawn).

        Transaction Code 81 may be required in the MICR line by some financial institutions to identify
        these types of items. It is recommended that the issuer of these payment items contact the
        financial institution directly for more information in this regard.

Figure 1 – Sample Front Layout of Gift Certificate or Store Coupon (not to scale)




OPTIONAL ELEMENTS ON FRONT

Payee Name Field

        If present, the Payee Name is generally located in the mid-section of the gift certificate or store
        coupon within the “free format” area. Its position is flexible, provided that it does not interfere
        with the clear area surrounding the Amount in Figures or other data elements (for example, the
        CPA member name, the date field).




New Specifications for Gift Certificates and Store Coupons (January 2008)                        Page 4 of 7
        If present, the Payee Name is to be printed in a minimum of 10 point and have a minimum PCS
        of 0.60 with respect to its immediate background.

Amount in Words Field

        The Amount in Words field is highly recommended, but not mandatory on gift certificates and
        store coupons. “If present, its position is flexible within the “free format” area.

        If present, the Amount in Words is to be printed in a minimum of 10 point and have a minimum
        PCS of 0.60 with respect to its immediate background.

        It is acceptable to end the Amount in Words either with the word “Dollars” or “Cents” integrated
        into the machine-printed Amount in Words.

Date Field

        If present, the date field will be located toward the upper right edge of the gift certificate or store
        coupon. It includes the word “DATE” and date field indicators, as well as guidance boxes if the
        date is to be completed by hand. It shall be located to provide at least 0.25 cm (0.1”) of
        clearance with respect to the Convenience Amount Rectangle, but preferably 0.64 cm (1/4”) of
        clearance where possible.

        The Date Field will have a minimum PCS of 0.6 with respect to its immediate background.

        Acceptable numeric representation of the date on all gift certificates and store coupons is in the
        form of YYYYMMDD, MMDDYYYY, or DDMMYYYY.

        If the date is present, date field indicators must appear below the characters of the date, in a
        minimum of 6 point font, maximum 8 point font, to identify the format used. A bilingual version
        of the Date Field Indicators in the international date format (i.e. Y/A M/M D/J) is also acceptable
        for those organizations that wish to print these items in a single bilingual format.

        The word “DATE” shall be in a minimum 8 point font.

        If pre-printed, the numeric characters identifying the date are to be a minimum of 10 point.

        Spaces, dashes or dots are permitted between elements of the date (e.g. 2007 11 01; 11-01-
        2007; or 01.11.2007). However, slashes or other symbols are not permitted between elements
        of the date (Note: slashes are permitted in the bilingual version of the date field indicators, but
        not in the date itself).

Gift Certificate/Store Coupon Number

        If present, the gift certificate or store coupon number normally appears at the top right of the gift
        certificate or store coupon, above the date field.

        However, positioning is flexible provided it does not interfere with a data element or its clear
        area (for example, the amount in figures field, the date field, the CPA member name).

        The minimum PCS for this information is 0.60.

New Specifications for Gift Certificates and Store Coupons (January 2008)                           Page 5 of 7
Signature Line Area

        If present, the Signature Line will be located in the “free format” area and must not interfere with
        other data elements or their clear area.

Conditional Statements

        Conditional statements will be permitted on gift certificates and store coupons (e.g. “Void if over
        $100”).

        However, it is important to note that if conditional statements are used on these items, financial
        institutions will not be responsible for verifying them. Items may not be returned through
        the clearing if a condition is not met. Any dispute would have to be addressed directly
        between the store coupon or gift certificate issuer, and the party that accepted it.


MANDATORY ELEMENTS ON BACK

Teller Stamp Box

        A teller stamp box must be printed in the upper left corner on the reverse side of the gift
        certificate or store coupon, containing the words “Teller Stamp Here” in a font no larger than 6
        point in size, with a maximum PCS of 0.25.

        The box should be situated 0.317 cm (1/8”) in from the top of the gift certificate or store coupon
        and 0.317 cm (1/8”) in from the left side when viewing the back.

        The box shall be a maximum of 6 cm (2 3/8”) high by 6 cm (2 3/8”) wide and a minimum of 3.5
        cm (1 3/8”) high by 4.1 cm (1 5/8”) wide.

Endorsement Line

        An endorsement line must be printed on the reverse side of the gift certificate or store coupon,
        with the phrase “Endorsement – Signature or Stamp” below it in an 8 point font, with a PCS of at
        least 0.60.

        The endorsement area includes the signature or stamp line(s) and/or address line(s) (where
        applicable). It shall begin 8.89 cm (3.5”) from the leading edge (i.e. the left edge when viewing
        the back) of the gift certificate or store coupon. It shall be placed no lower than 3.81 cm (1.5”)
        above the aligning edge (i.e. bottom) and shall end at least 1.27 cm (1/2”) away from the right
        hand edge.




New Specifications for Gift Certificates and Store Coupons (January 2008)                        Page 6 of 7
Verification Phrase

        A Verification Phrase consisting of the words “BACK/VERSO”; “VERSO/BACK”;
        “BACK/ENDOS”; “ENDOS/BACK”; “BACK” or “VERSO” must be printed in a font no less than
        10 point in size.

        The phrase shall be printed 8.89 cm (3.5”) from the leading edge (i.e. the left edge when
        viewing the back) of the gift certificate or store coupon and 2.54 cm (1”) from the aligning edge
        (i.e the bottom).

        The minimum PCS of this phrase shall be 0.60.

Figure 2 – Sample Back Layout of Gift Certificate or Store Coupon (Not to scale)




New Specifications for Gift Certificates and Store Coupons (January 2008)                      Page 7 of 7

				
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