Celebrating 40 years of payments

Published: December 1, 2020

In 1980, the Canadian Payments Association (CPA) was established, formalized by the Canadian Payments Act. Since then, we have grown from a humble association to a dynamic organization that clears and settles close to $200 billion dollars a day. This is 40 years in payments. 

However, these roots go as far back as 1964 when the federal Porter Commission considered how a national payments association would address more equitable and efficient access to the payments system. As advances in technology and payments started to emerge, the federal government and industry stakeholders, through further review and consultation over the years, agreed on the principles of a single body to fulfil this role.

At the onset, the main objectives of the CPA were to establish and operate a national clearings and settlements system and plan the evolution of the national payments system. That mandate was taken seriously and since then we have not looked back. 

Four years after inception, the CPA built and launched the Automated Clearing Settlement System (ACSS) in November 1984. The goal of the system was to improve efficiency within settlement procedures, balanced with the foresight to be able to adapt the system and rules to evolving technology and user needs - imagining changes that were unimaginable at the time, such as the implementation of Automated Bank Machine (ABM) networks, to pre-authorized debits, to point-of-sale payments. Within five years of the ACSS, the CPA undertook the planning of the Large Value Transfer System (LVTS), a new national system for the transfer of large-value payments, which started full operations in February 1999.  

The acceleration of technological change has accelerated our growth. Over the past decade, membership has expanded and rules have been adopted to allow for innovation and to meet the payments demands of Canadians for faster payments experiences, including supporting online retail payments and contactless debit payments. All the while ensuring the safe and secure operations of our systems.

To meet the needs of Canada’s evolving payments environment, including supporting Canada’s competitiveness on the global stage, a new vision for the future of payments was undertaken in 2014, including introducing our new name: Payments Canada. This vision brought changes to how we govern, how we better engage with our ecosystem, and launched the journey of the payments Modernization initiative.

Such strategic changes have enabled us to become well positioned to lead an industry movement that will put Canada at the forefront of modern payments. Here's to the next 40 years in payments.


Blue banner linking to our historical timeline: 1980-2020