Driving payment innovation: A conversation with the new chair of the Stakeholder Advisory Council

Recently, Payments Canada welcomed Daniela Aubry, Deputy Chief Payments Officer, Head of Client and Customers at Metrolinx as our new Stakeholder Advisory Council chair. We sat down with her to talk about her role as chair, some exciting payment developments at Metrolinx and how modern payment legislation benefits us all.

Headshot Daniela Aubry

Can you tell us a bit about your role and experience as a Stakeholder Advisory Council (SAC) member? What drew you to the position of chair?
My interest in the Chair role goes back to my involvement as a Payments Canada member working in a financial institution and now as a stakeholder working in an agency of the Ontario government.

I’ve been involved with Payments Canada for over four years and have been on both sides of the table — as a member of an industry committee supporting the RTR and as a stakeholder through the SAC. I think my diverse background positions me to empathize with and understand the diverse set of stakeholder advisory group members and advocate their individual positions and our collective one to Payments Canada accordingly.

My experience has been that it’s a great way for cross-industry participants to collaborate on standards and guidelines that can help support our individual use cases. I’m impressed with the collaboration between stakeholders and members and the commitment to moving Canada forward as an industry, albeit not without challenges to overcome. Having spent the first decade of my career with a fintech, I have witnessed the benefits that fair and equitable policies can bring to the payment space in Canada.

In general, I’m passionate about payments and ensuring we move Canada forward in payment modernization to bring the country to the standards that we see globally. I’m also passionate about ensuring consumers have equitable access and built-in protections and I look forward to working with other SAC members to achieve progress in these areas.

It’s been almost 15 years since Metrolinx rolled out the PRESTO card, a commuter staple across Ontario. Can you talk about some of the other innovative payment services and products Metrolinx has brought, or is planning to bring, to its customers?Metrolinx, through PRESTO, is making transit better for all through a trusted and integrated fare payment experience. We’ve been working hard to deliver new ways to pay and to enable fare system integration so that travel across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area is accessible and seamless for customers.

Since 2021, we’ve been rolling out PRESTO Contactless (credit and debit payments), the world’s first real-time mass transit transaction open payment solution, across transit agencies in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area, as well as ParaTranspo services in Ottawa. More recently, we launched this innovative payment offering on our largest transit agency partner, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC).

Coming up is a major transformation of the PRESTO card, which we plan to offer in mobile wallet. Having a virtual PRESTO card will be a game changer for customers who will be able to tap their phone or wearables on a device to pay for transit.

Internally, Metrolinx is focused on transforming its PRESTO system to adapt to evolving technology and customers’ changing needs while ensuring access and equity in public transit.

In 2021, the Retail Payment Activities Act (RPAA) was approved by Parliament to regulate retail payments in Canada. What will this regulatory framework mean for future Metrolinx services and products? And why is enacting modern payment legislation so important?
The RPAA is a critical step for increasing competition and flexibility in the payment space. I eagerly look forward to the legislative change that will ensure we fulfill the promise of the Real-Time Rail by broadening access.

For Metrolinx, an expansion of the payment space to additional payment service providers will help us deliver the best possible experience to our customers. For customers, this will offer more choice and customer-focused options.

We’re seeing a massive increase in the number of transactions that customers can use their credit and debit cards for on a daily basis. PRESTO Contactless is increasing the volume of demand for credit and debit providers. We hope that the RPAA and corresponding regulations will ensure there remains a healthy amount of innovation in this space.

In the payment industry, we know that when payments are working the way they’re supposed to, they go unnoticed by consumers. Why should consumers care about payments?
Customers should care about payments because they’re typically held responsible for the ones they initiate, even those that are unintended. If they send money to someone unintentionally, it’s a best-efforts model to get that money back and they’re not guaranteed a refund. The world we live in today is susceptible to scams and fraud and now, more than ever, customers need financial institutions and regulators that govern their money to act in their best interest.

In an ideal state where there’s good partnership and regulation, customers don’t really need to worry about payments. They should have high confidence that their payments will get where they need to get to in the time required.

We are still working on achieving that state, and ensuring we have a system that is fair, equitable, and affordable for businesses and merchants.


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