The Summit session spotlight: FinTechs: Taking a deep dive into the Canadian payments ecosystem

Canada is abuzz with FinTech startups who offer highly attractive alternative financial solutions to consumers across Canada. With more than 80 FinTech companies attracting nearly $1 billion in investments since 2010, a growing number of FinTech companies are partnering with long-standing financial institutions to successfully launch their programs across Canada. The “FinTechs: Taking a deep dive into the Canadian payments ecosystem” panel will take a deep dive into four key areas FinTechs should consider when launching and growing in Canada, including:

  • Navigating the intricacies of the Canadian payments landscape.
  • How to accelerate your time-to-market.
  • Choosing technology that is flexible for innovation.
  • Mobile integration. 

This panel will be moderated by Jennifer Tramontana, President and Founder of The Fletcher Group. We sat down with Jennifer and asked her about her business, the future of prepaid and the FinTech space in Canada.

How did The Fletcher Group come to be?

I started the Fletcher Group in 2005 with the lofty idea of creating an agency that was more sustainable and value added than any other PR or marketing agency model. We get deep into a client’s business and we support a work environment that encourages personal and professional aspirations. This combination has worked well for us.

How did you get involved in the prepaid space?

I started in prepaid in the U.S. in 2005 with the Network Branded Prepaid Card Association. The industry was just getting off the ground and it was a struggle to get media and consumers to pay attention to this “fringe” product. I quickly learned the value of prepaid as a tool for consumers, businesses and governments and now work with multiple associations and businesses who use it to promote loyalty, faster payments and financial inclusion. Through the perseverance and incredible product innovations of businesses in the space, prepaid has now become the fastest growing payment tool in North America. It is exciting to have been a part of the industry at its inception and to still be contributing to its growth.

How has the prepaid landscape changed in the last five years?

In Canada we are just scratching the surface with respect to the potential for prepaid. In the last five years Canada has witnessed an expansion of prepaid beyond gift cards into loyalty and incentive programs, corporate payments to replace cheques, disaster relief payments and now general spending tools to replace or complement a bank account. As a $3.1B market, prepaid isn’t tiny but its potential is huge. I co-founded the Canadian Prepaid Providers Organization in 2015, which has allowed the industry to organize its message and promote education. I think we will see a big expansion with consumers as they adopt prepaid to manage their spending and as businesses learn how prepaid is an exceptional tool to cut costs and make payments more efficient. I am looking forward to hearing the content at our inaugural Prepaid Symposium being held on May 23.

Describe the FinTech space in Canada right now, from a marketability perspective. How do we, as Canadians, compare to other countries?

Canada enjoys a global reputation as an entrepreneurial FinTech community, mainly concentrated in Vancouver and Toronto with some concentration in wealth management, money remittance and payments. However, there are also some stand out companies such as Shopfiy in e-commerce and SecureKey in authentication. While Canada has a FinTech association and various incubators such as MaRS Discovery District, Canada could benefit from a more organized investor community to buoy the industry and add some sizzle. This can be helpful to draw more attention to the growing industry, attract more talent and position Canada as a think tank for innovative FinTech products and solutions.

Do you work-life balance, and if so, how?

The Fletcher Group is built on work-life balance because we believe it is the best path to long term sustainability for both our team and our clients. You learn more and can provide better client counsel when you peruse your passions and interact with others. I have never met anyone who feels good about missing their family joys and obligations. We must make space for a full life.

What was the best piece of advice you ever received, and who was it from?

My dad “encouraged” me to go to graduate school immediately after I finished undergrad. For many years, I thought it had been a waste of time because I didn’t have as much to offer as fellow students who not only were older, but they had already been working for a while. Now, looking back, that graduate degree opened doors to my career path and started me in the workforce a couple years older and wiser. It was the right advice.

With rapid-fire keynotes, in-depth breakout sessions, networking opportunities, an exhibit hall, demos, social events and the FinTech Cup, The Summit is the place to be for all things payments! Register today at payments.ca/summit.