Mod Blog: Faster, more efficient payments are on the way for Canadians

By Robert Vokes

Canadians are increasingly digital, and soon paying bills, transferring money and other digital transactions will be faster and more convenient. Recently, Payments Canada selected global consulting firm Accenture to support a multi-year initiative to transform Canada’s payments ecosystem—a transformation that will bring a faster, data-rich and transparent payment system to Canada.

Imagine going for lunch to catch up with friends, but instead of waiting for separate payments to go through (you have to get back to the office), you split the bill with your friends via a mobile device. In a few taps, your bill is paid and you’re on your way. No cash needed, no waiting for a receipt, no change lost in the seat of your car on the way home, no manual reconciliation at the end of the month.

Although Canadians’ use of cash declined 17 percent from 2008 to 2014, countries such as China, Brazil and Switzerland are further ahead in implementing payment modernization. Australia and the UK are not far behind in their efforts.  And Canada will soon join these countries in offering 24/7/365 payment services.

At Accenture, we look forward to providing consulting services to Payments Canada on this innovative venture. As Gerry Gaetz, president & CEO at Payments Canada, said, “This is important work that will put Canada on the leading edge of payments, and a strong, dynamic and global team is key to our success. Together, we will work with financial institutions and key stakeholders to transform the payments system for the benefit of all Canadians.”

Delivering on expectations: Canadian consumers and businesses seek quick, transparent, secure and flexible payment systems

Forty-eight percent (and climbing!) of Canadians use online banking as their primary bill payment method. We expect efficient real-time transactions that allow us to access and transfer funds when and where it’s convenient for us. We expect to be able to manage our payment obligations based on our life’s needs.  And we want to be able to complete cross-border transactions easily, securely, and cost effectively.

Modernized payment systems will also benefit businesses and banks, since cash flow is fundamental to the Canadian economy. Technology innovations and emerging fintech entrants are already challenging established business models, driving an evolution in payments that prioritizes efficiency and security while providing more data about the goods and services being bought with that payment. Banks will have new opportunities for growth, for example, by being able to capture spending data to create new credit and savings products. And Canadian businesses can better meet customer demands for convenience and remain competitive in the global marketplace with an upgraded payments capability.

What does modernization look like?

Canadians want to spend less time on manual transactions. A modernized payment system in Canada will make it easier for Canadians to conduct business and personal transactions from their mobile devices, be it their phone, watch, or some new device yet to be invented (imagine your car paying for your Timmie’s as you pick up your coffee in the drive thru!).

Security is one key concern to note during this transformation. Companies will need to monitor cybersecurity closely to minimize risk of fraud. As we update payment systems, we also need to update security, and both need to be flexible to adapt to emerging technologies and threats.

This upgrade is huge for Canada and will contribute to our economic and financial systems’ growth. It will be a long and arduous road, and it will require close cooperation and involvement of all stakeholders.  But it is achievable.  Canada can be a world-leader, and most importantly, Canadians will have convenient, efficient access to make and request payments.  

About Robert Vokes and Accenture

Robert Vokes is Managing Director, Financial Services at Accenture in Canada. He draws on 30 years of experience to lead Accenture’s Financial Services team, helping Canadian banks, insurance companies, wealth managers and investment banks transform their business to meet changing customer needs, address technology challenges, and meet investor expectations.

Accenture is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries and all business functions – underpinned by the world’s largest delivery network – Accenture works at the intersection of business and technology to help clients improve their performance and create sustainable value for their stakeholders. With more than 394,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture drives innovation to improve the way the world works and lives. Visit us at www.accenture.com.