More Canadians are sending international payments than ever before, reveals new Payments Canada study

As the number of international payments continues to grow, people living in Canada stand to benefit from the introduction of the ISO 20022 messaging standard — a common language for payment messaging.

Payments Canada’s latest survey, the Payments Behaviour Tracker — Consumer survey, examines Canadians’ use of international payments.

Key study findings

  • Over the past 12 months, one in five Canadians sent money internationally using their Canadian bank account, representing a 33 per cent increase from 2022.
  • Canadians primarily use electronic funds transfer (EFT) via their online banking account/mobile banking app or PayPal Transfer to send money internationally.
  • Cost, exchange rate uncertainty, amount limits and the time it takes for funds to appear in the beneficiary’s account are the biggest pain points associated with sending money internationally.

International payments made by consumers are on the rise

The survey revealed that one in five Canadians sent money internationally using their Canadian bank account over the past 12 months. This represents a 33 per cent increase from 2022. The two most frequent payment situations for sending money internationally were transferring funds to another individual with a bank account in a foreign country and paying an international retailer directly. The leading destination for international payments was the United States (50 per cent).

The frequency of sending money internationally differs significantly by age group and gender

Young Canadians aged 18-34 (50 per cent) send money internationally more frequently (i.e., monthly or more often) compared to older Canadians aged 55 or over (21 per cent). Older Canadians send money internationally more rarely (i.e., once or twice per year) than do young Canadians (50 per cent vs. 29 per cent, respectively). Men are significantly more likely than women to frequently send money internationally (40 per cent  vs. 27 per cent). In particular, younger men (aged 18-34) who are self-employed or work in the gig-economy, are the most frequent senders of money internationally than other age groups at 91 per cent and 78 per cent, respectively.

Electronic funds transfer (EFT) is the most used payment method to send payments internationally

Over the last 12 months, the two most widely used methods for sending money internationally by Canadians were EFTs via their mobile banking app or online banking account at 31 per cent and PayPal Transfer at 30 per cent. Wire transfer was the next most widely used method for sending money internationally but placed a distant third at 11 per cent. Ease of making the transaction is a key driver regardless of payment method, while speed is the top driver for using wire transfers.

Cost is the most significant pain point associated with sending money abroad

Extra or hidden fees (26 per cent) and the high cost of each transaction (23 per cent) represent the most significant pain points for sending money internationally. This is followed by not knowing the foreign exchange rate applied before the clearing and settlement of the transaction (17 per cent), amount limit on the funds that can be sent (17 per cent) and the amount of time it takes for the transfer to be processed (17 per cent).

Why this research is important

As the use of international payments continues to increase it’s more important than ever to introduce ISO 20022 – an international standard designed to simplify global business communication — to payments in Canada and around the world.

Through the use of a common language for payment messaging that provides consistent, rich and structured data for electronic funds transfers, this standard will reduce friction in the payment experience, enhance global interoperability and promote the seamless processing of international payments from start to finish.

Payments Canada is leading the effort to introduce ISO 20022 to payments in Canada. To learn more about this work and ISO 20022 more generally, please visit Payments Canada’s ISO 20022 resource centre.

About the study

The Payments Behaviour Tracker - Consumer survey was compiled to examine Canadians' use of international payments. In total, 1,501 Canadians were surveyed using Leger’s online panel between September 25 and October 6, 2023. View the full report to learn more.


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