CPA uncovers a common vision for progress in payments

Financial Institutions, Bank of Canada, government, new players and stakeholders share a common future view for payments in Canada

April 20, 2016

The Canadian Payments Association (CPA) has uncovered a common vision for payments in Canada, working with organizations representing diverse perspectives: A modern payment system must be fast, flexible and secure, promote innovation and strengthen Canada’s competitive position.

The findings, outlined in Vision for the Canadian Payments Ecosystem, are the result of a CPA-led consultative process involving more than 100 financial institutions, businesses, consumer groups and governments about the future of Canadian payments.

In keeping with its role to underpin the Canadian financial system and economy by providing safe, efficient and effective clearing and settlement of payments, the CPA led this consultation to facilitate the creation of a common vision for the future of payments in Canada. The CPA is modernizing its governance and systems to support the evolving needs and expectations of its participant financial institutions, businesses, consumers and governments.

“While Canada’s payment systems have long been recognized for safety, security and reliability, we know that change and investment are required to position them for the future,” said Gerry Gaetz, President and CEO of the CPA. “The global economy is being reshaped by digital technology, evolving user demands, new market entrants and changing regulatory oversight. The CPA, in conjunction with the financial services industry, stakeholders and users, has embarked on a modernization initiative to address this in support of Canada’s financial system and economy.”
As a foundational step on the modernization roadmap, the CPA led participants through a visioning exercise over several months. The result was strong alignment on the high level needs and expectations for the payment system of the future.

The Vision for the Canadian Payments Ecosystem, which will guide the analysis, planning and design of CPA systems, identified eight key needs:

  • Fast payment options - A modern system should make funds available to recipients in near real-time.
  • Data-rich payments - The ISO 20022 global message standard should be adopted to provide expanded and standardized information with payments.
  • Easier payments - Payments should be convenient to send using simple identifiers such as an e-mail address, mobile number or even social media handle.
  • Cross-border convenience - Consumers and businesses should have access to practical and convenient methods to make payments to those in other countries.
  • A platform for innovation - The payments system should be flexible and adaptable, providing a platform for innovation, decreasing costs and delivering ongoing efficiencies.
  • Transaction transparency - Notifications to payor and payees should provide tracking updates on the status of payments.
  • Activity-based oversight - Rules and regulations should focus on services provided, instead of the type of institution that provides them.
  • Open, risk-based access – A modern payment system should foster competition and define objective requirements for access – without compromising safety and security.

A number of countries have embarked on modernization initiatives of their payments systems. Canada is moving towards modernization, learning from those who have already implemented changes. The CPA’s strategy is to take a holistic approach, plotting a course that is right for Canada, mindful of the need for safety, efficiency and meeting the interests of Canadians.

“When we set out to modernize Canada’s clearing and settlement system, we committed to sound research and significant industry consultation to ensure we chose the right path,” said Gaetz. “With the results of the Vision work, we can move forward with the confidence of solid alignment on the future needs of participants and users.”

PDF iconVision for the Canadian Payments Ecosystem is open for public consultation until June 20, 2016. The Companion Reader to the Vision provides a summary version of the findings. Canadians are encouraged to share comments and feedback by e-mailing

About the Canadian Payments Association:

The Canadian Payments Association (CPA) ensures that financial transactions in Canada settle safely and securely each day. The CPA underpins the Canadian financial system and economy by owning and operating Canada’s payment clearing and settlement infrastructure, including associated systems, by-laws, rules and standards.  The value of payments cleared and settled by the CPA in 2015 was nearly $50 trillion, or $197 billion every business day. These encompass a wide range of payments made by Canadians and businesses involving inter-bank transactions, including those made with debit cards, pre-authorized debits, direct deposits, bill payments, wire payments and cheques.


For media inquiries, please visit the Media Centre.

Keep reading