Coalition of leading industry stakeholders voice continued support for vital Canadian Payments Act amendments

by rebecca

OTTAWA, October 11, 2023 — The Fall Economic Statement presents an opportunity to modernize the Canadian Payments Act to strengthen financial competition, innovation, consumer protection and economic stability.

Leaders across Canada’s payment industry continue to demonstrate unified support for amendments to the Canadian Payments Act to expand Payments Canada’s membership. This support was previously expressed through various pre-budget consultation submissions, a joint letter to the Minister of Finance and a 2018 Department of Finance consultation.

Expanded membership eligibility is essential to broaden safe access and participation on Payments Canada’s infrastructure. By broadening access to include payment service providers, credit union locals, and operators of financial market infrastructures that meet regulatory and legislative requirements, the Government of Canada will foster competition and innovation and help ensure the future of digital payments happens within — and not outside — the regulatory system.

“Payments are changing at an unprecedented rate,” said Tracey Black, President and Chief Executive Officer of Payments Canada. “Canada must evolve its payment systems and supporting legislation in parallel to deliver continued financial stability, to support increased competition and innovation and to ensure Canada remains globally competitive.”

“Payments Canada, and the regulatory framework that underpins the organization, has a long, proven history of serving Canadians’ best interests by getting money to where it needs to be, safely,” said Garry Foster, Chair of the Board of Directors of Payments Canada. “But the world is changing. Payments are changing. And innovation is happening no matter what. If we want to continue to serve Canadians in a way that reflects the level of safety and security expected from Canada’s financial system, we need to modernize the Canadian Payments Act.”

Currently, Payments Canada membership is limited to banks, credit union centrals, and select other financial institution types, including securities dealers. Membership is required to access Payments Canada’s infrastructure as a participant. Proposed changes to the Canadian Payments Act would expand membership eligibility to include payment service providers registered with the Bank of Canada, provincially regulated credit unions, and operators of financial market infrastructures designated by the Bank of Canada. To gain access to the payment systems, a Payments Canada member must meet the risk-based access and participation requirements set out in Payments Canada’s by-laws, rules and standards.

Contributed quotes

“As new technology and services continue to transform the way payments are made and processed, amending and broadening access to the Canadian Payments Act can help modernize Canada’s payment landscape. Allowing for a more diverse group of financial service providers can ensure the path is open for innovation and encourage the development of new user-friendly, accessible and cost-efficient payment solutions for small businesses. It can also foster competition within the industry, which can drive costs down and improve financial services.”
Dan Kelly, President and Chief Executive Officer
Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)

“The most important benefits we can offer Canadian consumers are greater choice and competition within the context of a safe and well-regulated payment system. A measured approach to broadening access to Payments Canada membership, which includes effective rules and robust consumer protection, can help to create a more innovative and competitive marketplace that is good for everyone.”
Elizabeth Mulholland
Prosper Canada

“Canada has a strong record of payment innovation. At the same time, we know we must continue to update policy and regulatory frameworks to ensure they meet the needs of Canadians and support growth and competitiveness in the market. Interac supports updating the Canadian Payments Act to enable broadened participation in national payments infrastructure and will continue to work with industry stakeholders to advance opportunities for increased access on our network and products.”
Kirkland Morris, VP Enterprise Initiatives & External Affairs

“Making the financial sector work harder for its customers is a necessary part of solving Canada’s affordability crisis. Expanding access to payment systems would promote responsible competition in the financial sector, letting Canadian consumers and businesses keep more of their hard-earned money in their pockets.”
Alex Vronces, Executive Director
Fintechs Canada

“Expanding membership to Payments Canada will allow fintechs to serve on the front lines of bringing the benefits of faster payments to consumers, merchants and the economy.”
Scott Talbott, SVP, Government Affairs
Electronic Transactions Association (ETA)  

“The payment fintech industry in Canada has made commendable strides in introducing new and innovative concepts. However, there are still some elements hindering the overall progress of the sector. The lack of representation and access to these fintechs in Payments Canada’s membership is presenting certain obstacles in the discussions surrounding crucial policies and infrastructure. To overcome these hurdles, we firmly believe that expanding membership criteria is necessary. This will enable innovative fintechs to offer Canadians superior products and services, foster healthy competition, and promote innovation. Ultimately, this will help Canada remain competitive in the global fintech landscape. At Fintech Cadence, we wholeheartedly support the idea of extending membership eligibility to Payment Canada’s membership.”
Layial El-Hadi, Executive Director
Fintech Cadence

“Canada must act now to modernize payments. The amendments to the Canadian Payments Act are long overdue and necessary to enable non-bank access to the payment system. Allowing a broader group of financial service providers like Wise to become members of Payments Canada will lower payment costs while increasing speed, competition, innovation, and consumer adoption. Payment modernization will allow Canada to go from a global fintech laggard to a leader.”
Nick Catino, Global Head of Policy & Social Impact

“It is evident that the most significant innovations in payment services within Canada have been pioneered by organizations that, unfortunately, do not qualify for membership within Payments Canada. This exclusion has placed payment service providers (PSPs), such as Telpay, and their valued customers, in a highly disadvantageous position. The inability to participate in the Payments Canada network has stifled competition and hindered progress within our industry. This has resulted in a glaring disparity in access to essential payment infrastructure, directly impacting the ability of PSPs  to offer reliable and flexible solutions to their clients. We firmly believe that broadening access to these systems is not only a matter of fairness but also of economic necessity. It is our assertion that providing greater access will not only empower PSPs but also benefit end-users — both payors and payees. A more inclusive approach to payment systems will foster innovation, enhance competition, and drive the demand for more reliable and flexible payment solutions.”
John Zajic, Vice President, Corporate Policy & Compliance

“Implementation of open banking and amendments to the Canadian Payments Act that allow a broader set of stakeholders to safely and securely gain access to Canada’s payment systems will facilitate a consumer-centric 21st century financial services marketplace. The Fall Economic Statement provides a unique opportunity to meaningfully advance both of these important initiatives and to promote innovation, competition, and a more inclusive Canadian financial services system.”
Steve Boms, Executive Director
Financial Data and Technology Association of North America