Tim Hortons' perspectives on the evolving Canadian retail payment landscape

As a major player in the Canadian restaurant industry, Tim Hortons is dependent on Canada's payment infrastructure for its day-to-day business operations.

In this interview, Nicolas Dinh, VP of Financial Services Operations at Tim Hortons, delves into the food and beverage giant's perspective on the evolving payment landscape in Canada and why modern payments are crucial to retailers. He also discusses how expanded access to Payments Canada's membership and systems could benefit retailers and their customers.

Headshot Nicolas Dinh

You’re one of the newest members of the Stakeholder Advisory Council (SAC). What were some of the motivations for you, and Tim Hortons, to join SAC?  How does having a major retailer's voice on the council benefit the industry?
As a large restaurant chain in Canada, Tim Hortons has a dependency on payment systems for its day-to-day business operations. Whether it’s accepting guest payments in restaurants, making disbursements and payments to franchisees, or making payroll to employees, these are all fundamental elements of business.

Being at the table as a SAC member allows us to understand key topics being discussed at Payments Canada while giving us the opportunity to voice our thoughts and opinions on important topics that matter to our industry.

How does Tim Hortons' recent launch of the Tims Credit Card align with the evolving retail payment landscape in Canada? Why is it important for retailers to stay innovative and integrate new payment technologies and advancements into their offerings?
The retail payment landscape in Canada is quickly evolving. Retailers are seeking to offer their customers flexible ways to pay while rewarding them for their loyalty.

The introduction of the Tims Credit Card gives guests the opportunity to earn even more free coffee, beverages and food by earning Tims Rewards points everywhere they shop. The card is especially rewarding when you use it to make your everyday purchases on groceries, gas, rideshare and transit because 5 points per dollar are earned on those purchases.

Retailers should stay up to speed when it comes to innovative payment technology offerings. There are so many new payment technologies out there, and in my opinion, the true challenge for retailers is to cut through all the noise and identify payment technologies that deliver real value to their customers in the form of speed of payment, convenience, and delight. Specifically, at Tim Hortons, these payment technologies also need to solve for pain points that our franchise operators experience in their day-to-day business.

Tim Hortons’ credit card offerings demonstrate a commitment to inclusivity. Could you elaborate on the importance of inclusivity within the Canadian retail payment space and how Tim Hortons is addressing this?
One of the challenges that newcomers may have when they come to Canada is that they have no access to credit due to having no credit history or limited credit history. My parents came to Canada from Vietnam on a student visa in the early 70s. I know firsthand from their stories how tough it can be to find your financial footing and establish creditworthiness as a student and a newcomer when there aren’t a whole lot of credit products catered to your needs. That’s why I’m really proud of the Tims Credit Card. It has a secured version for Canadian residents who have limited or no credit history – like students and newcomers. Cardholders can build their credit history while also earning Tims Rewards Points.

When we designed the Tims Credit Card, it was important to ensure the secured version of the card would have no stigma attached to it. Not only does the secured version of the credit card earn Tims Rewards Points and offer benefits like Extended Warranty and Purchase Protection, but the way the card looks is the exact same as the unsecured Tims Credit Card. The look and feel of a credit card may seem like a small thing in the grand scheme of building credit history, but for someone who already feels a little different, it can go a long way.

Payments Canada — in lockstep with the Canadian payment industry — is advocating for amendments to the Canadian Payments Act (CP Act), which would allow us to broaden our membership eligibility to include, among other entities, Retail Payments Activities Act (RPAA)-registered payment service providers, credit union locals, and operators of financial market infrastructures designated by the Bank of Canada. How do you think expanded access to Payments Canada systems might benefit the retail sector?
I am a big believer that by expanding access to Payments Canada’s payment systems, it will lead to increased competition and innovation, which should, in turn, benefit consumers and businesses alike. 

Retailers are heavily reliant on payment systems to conduct their day-to-day business. With the broadening of access, I do foresee two positive outcomes in the retail sector. Firstly, there will be operational efficiencies that retailers will gain, saving them money and time. Secondly, direct access will allow retailers to re-imagine and reinvent shopping, ordering and checkout experiences, which would only benefit Canadian consumers.

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