Moving high-value payments safely and securely

Headshot Aylson Larocque


Alyson Larocque

Manager of High-Value Payment Systems Operations

Alyson plays a key role in supporting the day-to-day operations of Canada’s high-value payment system, Lynx. The safety and soundness of Lynx is her top priority. Alyson is also passionate about empowering stakeholders with Lynx educational programming to contribute to a stronger foundation for the Canadian payment ecosystem.

The Canadian economy depends on the exchange of billions of dollars each day. At Payments Canada, it’s our job to ensure that these financial transactions are carried out safely and securely.

My team operates Lynx, Canada’s high-value payment system — a key underpinning of the Canadian economy.  

Lynx is a real-time gross settlement (RTGS) system that moves high-value, time-critical Canadian dollar payments between participating financial institutions in Canada. On any given business day, Lynx clears and settles an average of 52,000 transactions worth more than $400 billion.

Many essential financial transactions and other financial systems depend on Lynx, including: 

  • Government of Canada and Bank of Canada large value transactions (e.g., federal receipts and disbursements, Receiver General term deposit auctions)
  • ACSS, CDSX, foreign exchange transaction settlements
  • inter-financial institution transactions

Payments Canada conducts regular system monitoring, administration, configuration and incident management work to ensure these important daily financial transactions pass through Lynx smoothly. 

Our work also involves managing and supporting external relationships with key technology vendors to ensure we maintain 99.8 per cent system availability. We also provide payment subject-matter expertise to our Lynx participants and our regulators for matters related to Lynx, including the development of our rules

Due to the criticality of Lynx, we’re also responsible for conducting many different types of resiliency exercises in collaboration with our members and regulators. This ensures we’re prepared in the event of an emergency. Recurring committee meetings and touchpoints with our members help us stay up-to-date on key developments in the payment ecosystem and their implications on operating Lynx.

Canada’s adoption of the ISO 20022 financial messaging standard is critical for Lynx. ISO 20022 is an international standard designed to simplify global business communication by providing a common set of payment messages for financial institutions to use consistently across the globe. Countries around the world are helping their financial industry and business communities adopt this standard to improve cross-border payments, and ultimately, create a more efficient payment clearing and settlement experience.

Almost a year ago, Lynx went live with ISO 20022 by implementing Lynx MX (Message XML) payment messages, a new set of ISO 20022-enabled payment messages. Before MX, we only used MT (Message Type) messages. This implementation represented the start of a coexistence phase where MX messages could be settled in Lynx along with the legacy MT messages. This coexistence phase is scheduled to last until November 2025, when MT messages will no longer be supported by the industry, in alignment with Swift’s international migration timelines.

Work is also underway by Payments Canada to assess if additional Lynx ISO 20022-supported messages are required. If you’re interested in learning more about the different types of MT and MX formats currently supported by Lynx, Payments Canada’s Technical Specifications and Procedures (TSP) documents (TSP-001 and TSP-005) are a great place to start.

In the payment industry, we know that when payments work how they’re supposed to, they go unnoticed. This means we’re doing our job right. It also means that many people don’t know about the critical payment systems that underpin our economy. I’m proud to be part of the team responsible for operating Lynx, a mighty but not-so-well-known system, that Canada depends on.

Alyson Larocque
Manager, High-Value Payment Systems Operations 
Payments Canada

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