Canada is at a competitive disadvantage because we do not yet have the frameworks in place to support new payment experiences -- some that are commonplace in other parts of the world. PayTechs of Canada is a new association focused on advocating on behalf of the burgeoning Canadian paytech industry. Host Justin Ferrabee is joined by founding members Ben Harrison, Head of Partnerships & Policy, Portag3; Laurence Cooke, Founder & CEO, NanoPay; Shirley Matthew, VP Payment and Card Product, Peoples Group; and Harinder Takhar, CEO, Paytm Labs to explore how paytechs will revolutionize the way consumers and businesses pay in Canada. Listen to Episode 6 of The PayPod here.
- Ben Harrison, Head of Partnerships & Policy, Portag3
- Laurence Cooke, Founder & CEO, NanoPay
- Shirley Matthew, VP Payment and Card Product, Peoples Group
- Harinder Takhar, CEO, Paytm Labs
Justin: We've all heard of Fintechs and the innovations fintechs companies bring to the financial services industry. But what about paytech? payments technology, and the potential to transform all things payments for both the consumer and for businesses? Canada is at a competitive disadvantage because we do not yet have the frameworks in place to support new payment experiences, some that are commonplace in other parts of the world. With the modernization of our national payment system, along with regulatory review and discussions, Canada is at an inflection point. We need to act now to ensure we have the groundwork in place to be able to lead in payments and not miss out on what is happening globally.
An organization at the forefront of action is Paytechs of Canada, which was launched at the 2019 summit. Canada's largest payment conference, Paytechs of Canada aims to increase awareness and profile of the paytech industry with the ambitious goal of achieving the world's best payment experience for Canadians. With that in proving our country's competitive advantage in the payments industry. I'm joined today by any elite group of payments experts and now the founding members of Paytechs of Canada, Ben Harrison from Portage, Harinder Takhar of PayTM labs, Lawrence Cook of Nanopay and Shirley Matthew of People's Group calling in from BC. Thank you for joining me today on the pay pod.
So, what is paytech?
Ben: So paytech is to payments what insure tech is too insurance, and wealth tech is to wealth management, and it can go on and on with adding tech to the end of the word. But I think fundamentally it's about bringing technology to bear, to bring new experiences, new types of products and services to both consumers and small businesses.
Justin: So what's the problem Paytechs are trying to solve?
Lawrence: Yeah. So for me Lawrence, Paytechs are trying to solve a fundamentally different problem to a lot of banks. And if we think about the entire Gig economy, everything has changed. The Uberization of everything. The only thing that hasn't changed is actually payments. At the moment we rely entirely on banks who are actually pretty low tech to deliver payments, and paytech is really the onset to the Uberization of payments.
Justin: Harinder, how does Canada compare to other countries?
Harinder: Interesting question. So we have experiences at least directly as a company in a couple of other countries, which is India and Japan. What particularly strikes me is the fact that people still have to work with a relatively archaic payment system. I think this is a journey. Most countries have gone through this journey and all are planning to go through this journey. I think Canada is starting to talk about it, but it's a little bit behind. So when you think of any buyer going to a shop and buying something, they actually still have to fumble with cash or any other method. What it means is that digital currency still not front and center in Canada, and that's I think the consumer impact for everyday payments, for retail payments and even other ways. On the business side of course the amount of amount of time it takes to settle payments, or the convenience with which businesses can pay each other or to their customers is also equally slow.
Justin: Shirley, what do you think the opportunity is for Paytechs in Canada and internationally?
Shirley: So that's a very good question, Justin. In Canada, I think there's a lot of opportunity for Paytechs. To date the financial institutions have done a very good job of providing payment and financial services to the Canadians. However, I think with new technology they've been slower at adopting, and there are a lot of opportunities now for Paytechs to provide all kinds of more innovative products and services, and I think that holds true internationally as well.
Justin: I make payments all the time. I'm not sure I know exactly what the problem is. What are some of the pain points in payments in Canada?
Harinder: Every now and then I go for lunch with people from my office. Obviously I'm the only buffoon who doesn't carry cash, and I have to figure out a way to pay them back. I honestly don't know how to do that without asking them so much of unnecessary information and going through a multistage process to do that.
Lawrence: You could write a check.
Justin: That will be held when they put it in their bag for five days.
Lawrence: You know, for me it's extraordinary how difficult it is to do the most basic things in payments. I once had to send to someone €5, and the only way I could actually send it was by wire. So the wire cost me $35 to send a €5 payment, and I just thought, there's something wrong when you have to pay more for the actual transaction than than the amount you're sending. We send a lot of wires, and and when we go and send wires, if you're a small business you actually have to turn up in person. in the US you don't in lots of other places you don't have to be there in person. For a small business in Canada, you who doesn't have cash management services, you have to turn up in person and on average a wire takes us about nine minutes.
Now when I go into my bank branch stand in the line, so I have to stand in the line for a while and we live in Liberty village that is always aligned. And then eventually when you get there, it's nine minutes to to do a wire. Sometimes the wires just fail, they just don't work. I'm like how's that even possible? I've sent a wire to the same person before, you had a template. Everything is exactly the same. All I'm doing is the same thing again, and it doesn't work. But my most extreme example is when we first got financed, a leading financial institution from the United States invested in us, and they sent the money twice because we actually also had to close on an acquisition. So when the second tranche of money arrived, our lawyers called us.
We had already closed the deal and everything was done. Lawyers called and said, "We received the money again, do you want me to do?" And so I said, "Well, send the money back." About 10 minutes later I get a call from them and they're saying, "We sent it twice. Can you send the second tranche back?" This is more than $10 million. So I said, "Well, I thought the second one was from my personal account." Which I thought was a really funny joke at the time, but when we couldn't find the money, it wasn't funny anymore.
Our investor was calling me saying, "Where are you?" And I said," I'm in Toronto. Why?" And they say, "Well, glad you're not in the Caribbean or in Africa, or you've disappeared with our money." And I'm like, "No, no, no. I did send the money back, I promise." And eventually it took us 11 days to find a wire that was going from Toronto from a large financial institution, to another large financial institution in New York. 11 days. It was just missing and no one knew where it was.
Shirley: I definitely agree with what Lawrence is saying. There's no way to track where the money is. If you really want to try to track it, you've got to phone everybody and their mother, and still nobody knows where your money is. And 11 days, that's probably pretty good in some cases because the money just shows up when it shows up, and then you don't actually know how much money you're going to get because to Lawrence's point, a friend owed me some money sent me, it was something like $100. By the time I got it, it was $75 or $70 so there went my money. It's not low cost, it's not fast. It's a pain in the butt and it goes missing, and there's nothing you can do about it. It's a problem and a lot of people need international payments these days. A lot of people have immigrated around the world, and want to send money back to their families. Every single time it's a very high cost payment.
Ben: Moving money, like most Canadians, multiple bank accounts with multiple institutions. The process of trying to move money from one to the other in a timely fashion, if you need to make a quick payment on one of the accounts, we recently made a large acquisition and depleted a significant portion of one bank account. But had payments coming out of that that we just in the process hadn't thought about. So needed to move some money from one to that one. Three to five days to clear the check that was coming from ... So I think those are the types of experiences that many Canadians just don't know any better.
That's how you have lived your entire, if you've lived in Canada, that has been your experience.
Justin: So you guys all kind of got together and decided what we need to do is create a paytech association or a Paytechs of Canada. How did that come about and what are you trying to do here?
Ben: I think the original thinking around this organization came from a meeting that a few folks here were at organized by a lady named Wendy Mackinnon. To, I think first off just start talking about the shared issues and challenges that paytechs in Canada were facing. From there I think the discussion led to a realization that there were some bigger issues to tackle here, and that as the big topics of today that impact payments around the retail payments oversight framework, around open banking and payments initiation, around the realtime rail. These are all major issues that will fundamentally reshape not just what payments looks like, but what financial services I think in this country will look like. What was conspicuously absent from that discussion was any sort of unified voice from this kind of disparate group of entities that quite frankly have both the most to win, and I think the most to lose, by being a part of this or not being a part of this discussion.
I think it was through that realization that there needed to be more here, and there needed to be a voice that was brought to the table from an industry standpoint, and from a policymaking standpoint, that that could advocate for these organizations. That I think was largely the genesis of the group. Then it was a boots on the ground, let's go and talk to everyone, see if they're willing to put in some money to actually create this thing. And here we are.
Justin: Are there a lot of paytechs in Canada? Okay. Is it thing, a big thing?
Lawrence: Apparently they are around a thousand fintechs, a think a lot of that is in fact paytech. But I think to Ben's earlier point, the big thing is that even if you enabled a few paytechs, it actually helps the whole industry, including all the fintechs. It actually helps the incumbent banks as well. So many businesses beyond just immediate fintechs will benefit from having a unified voice, from having some real data into what's going on. You asked the question about how many PayTechs there are and I can't even give you a straight answer.
Justin: There's a starting point. How big is this? Right? Okay.
Harinder: And I think to that point there is a lot of paytechs that could have been functioning over here, which do not exist because of the absence of smoother infrastructure or better infrastructure for them. And I think personally for me, what is exciting is what could happen when that will arise.
Justin: So what you're saying is we've actually lost, we don't even know how big it is or how big it could have been because of our infrastructure and the accessibility of it?
Harinder: I'll give you an example. There were 80 applications on iPhone, android, etc. within a month of open banking being launched in India. That's an example of like an explosion that you see when something's done right.
Justin: Now you mentioned a couple of things off the top, Ben. Those are some pretty big topics to be going after. What do you hope to accomplish here?
Ben: So I think to start we're going to have to be realistic about what we can tackle in the short term with those organization. I mean it's literally something we're starting from scratch. But what's helpful is to your point here, there are a couple of really big topics that we can start to apply our efforts and thinking towards. A couple of things, If we look 12 months from now, what would we like to accomplish? The big one is probably definition I think to start, around what a PSP will be, and doing everything we can to ensure that that access, that definition is as encompassing as we think it should be. And is in fact as encompassing as the competition bureau suggested it should be in their 2017 fintech market study. So that I think is definitely one, I think answering some basic questions as we've just touched on, like how many paytechs are there, how is information shared amongst those paytechs?
I think it's funny as we've been meeting as a group to map out our plans and our strategies, every time we meet someone brings up a point about some piece of policy, or a decision that was made that no one else in the room had any idea. So we think there's actually also just a benefit within the paytech community to share information, and just make people more broadly aware. Make this group more informed, and as they get more informed, I think we become more powerful as a group to start to advocate for those big issues.
I would love to say that, you know, we could advocate, we will advocate. I'd love to say that we can push for, and success would be payments initiation and part of open banking. But there's like 12 steps. I think we still have to answer the question, will we implement open banking in Canada and then what will that look like? I think it's interesting that from the discussion that's going on today, payments initiation has actually fallen off the radar in the open banking discussion. I think it's a strategic decision to try and make the whole process manageable. There's an example of an opportunity that a group like this could be advocating for.
Justin: Had you been in the debate, you could've said, "Just don't let this go?"
Ben: Yeah, just no one else is pushing for it. No one else is actively saying, "No, no, we need to do this.2 Every other country that's implemented open banking with the exception of Australia has moved forward with payments initiation. I get it, we don't have a real time rail right now.
There are these are all these steps but if no one's talking about it, then no one in Ottawa is going to care about it. And I think we can play a role in making more people care about these issues because they are important. I think the experience from folks like Harinder and Lawrence is, when they talk with government officials, they want to see innovation, they want to see new things happening. This group can be a catalyst for that.
Justin: So Lawrence, you spent a decade in wireless, and now you're in payments. Tell us about that move.
Lawrence: Well, firstly I think that both wireless and telecom and general and payments are fundamental requirements to compete at an economic level. If your country doesn't have a good telecom infrastructure and doesn't have a good payments infrastructure, we literally cannot compete with other countries. So I think it's a necessary but not sufficient condition for success at an economic level in a global stage, which is becoming more and more competitive. So if India has got a much better payment system than we have, it's easier to operate and do things there than in Canada. If the US has got a better one than we have, trade and everything goes south of the border. For us to compete as a country, we need to have a proper payments infrastructure. So I think this is fundamental and core to our National Success.
Justin: Harinder, PayTM is a big firm and you are the incumbent, and the dominant actor in India. And now you are setting up your labs here. Why here and what do you hope for in Canada?
Harinder: I've been asked this question I think at an average of once a week since ...
Justin: I thought I was so special.
Harinder: Well it started because we, I would say literally accidentally bumped into a couple of things that happened very uniquely in Toronto. The first one is that there are a lot of universities over here, so that brings a lot of talent. Then the banking industry here is quite a big, serious and stable one. That brings a very nice sort of merger of banking, financial services and technology people in one place. So for us as a company that has been growing at a breakneck speed in India, we wanted all the firepower to improve our product, our technology and all that. So we started in this country as a company that will help build core platforms for our business back home. That was it for the first two years. very soon we realized that, okay, if we're in Canada, we actually see some things over here that we can do better.
Justin: Turns out we don't have the infrastructure here in Canada that you have in India.
Harinder: Obviously but we, I think as a small audacious, ambitious startup did not care about that. We launched anyway. So we figured that there is a very common element that everybody in Canada has to bear with, which is paying bills as an example. So we started there and now we are launching our merchant side of the business. So we actually believe that there is an immense opportunity in Canada. We don't believe that that opportunity essentially takes anything away. In India as an example, we've noticed that in the entire economy there are quite a few gaps that are left out by the incumbents because of the way that they are set up and because they haven't really caught up with the technology, or the potential of what technology can do in this day and age.
We find that there is immense opportunity in those very holds as an example. So for instance, access to payments, access to capital. A small merchant who doesn't have a credit history, or doesn't have a particular, let's say an amount of revenue in a year, the systems in place don't operate at a cost to where it is worthwhile to serve those customers. It can be a small shop, or it can be a user with not a lot of money on their hands. But that doesn't mean that their capital needs are lesser than the others. That doesn't mean that the benefit that they will have from access to capital and payments and all that infrastructure will be any lesser.
So I think our role is using technology to make those things happen. [inaudible 00:18:31] after being in this for 10 years that it doesn't essentially take something away, but adds so much to the whole economy, and makes us so much more competitive at a country level. So we today are a part of the front and center regulatory conversation in the country as well, and we remind ourselves as well that if we are an incumbent we should also make sure that we ourselves don't become the reason why the next generation of innovation wouldn't come.
Justin: Fantastic. So you have kind of been wandering the earth individually and you see each other and you realize you're all in payments, and that you're all trying to do the same thing. You get together and you realize that there's some commonality, and not just in the services you provide. But in how you help other Fintechs, not as the streaming Fintech, but also helping them. There is actually a higher order here. You do the infrastructure and it helps Canadian economic activity, and you can see the bridging with international differences in capability and infrastructure. Shirley, you've spent a lot of time influencing decision makers. When you look at this new proposition and the challenge that it represents, who would detract from what you're trying to do? It sounds perfect. Why? Who could ever resist or be reluctant to give you all the things that you wish for?
Shirley: I'm hoping that I'm not naive when I think that in Canada there won't be any detractors. It doesn't make sense to detract. What we're trying to do is bring the world's best payments experiences to Canada. So what we have talked about though is areas that we, or people that we think we need to influence and win over. Because here are a lot of activities going on right now in this space. There's the regulatory review, and there's also the work that you're doing with respect to real time rails and modernization. So we really believe that with all of this happening right now, there are a lot of people out there who may not have the full story of what payments is, and we would love to be able to try to help them understand so that they can make better decisions that would benefit the whole industry.
To do that, we're also thinking that we will bring thought leadership, we will share knowledge. To your point, we're really looking at doing something about the infrastructure and doing something to help us all, not just one part of the ecosystem. But really looking for ... We talked about advocacy and being solutions oriented. What we want to do is bring solutions to those folks who are making decisions, so that they can take that into consideration as they make decisions that can affect all of us, including all of the Canadians out there who want to make payments.
Justin: So I, I get fintech, the idea of silicon valley and a bunch of young people in a hip office doing cool things, and whipping things up really fast, and scaling really fast and raising lots of money. Is that what we're talking about here? Do these people focus on what they're going to get? Do they have the chops actually run a payment system? Payments systems need to be safe and sound and secure, and there's some real proper stuff in an infrastructure like this. Tell me about paytechs and what we we're getting here, in terms of do they have the ability to deliver on the promise you're talking about?
Lawrence: If we look globally PayTM has more clients than any bank in Canada. So can they do something at scale? Absolutely. You look in China through Alipay and WeChat pay, they have significantly more clients than the biggest banks in the world all combined. So can a paytech company delivers a things that a bank delivers today? Yes. Can they deliver it better, faster, cheaper? Absolutely. So I don't think this is just about a bunch of hippies and for us we are particularly interested in being regulated. We are encouraging the regulation.
Justin: That's non-intuitive.
Lawrence: We are encouraging the regulation. We want a high bar, we want to say that we've crossed that threshold and that we can look after our clients. We don't want to be considered some yahoo that's gonna run away with people's money. We certainly not a crypto crazy or everyone's getting all excited about losing the private keys for cryptocurrencies and things like that. None of us are in those sorts of businesses. We're in the legitimate businesses where we can do things better, faster, cheaper and importantly data rich payments, which we've currently failed to do in Canada.
Ben: You don't get the support of the regulators, you don't get the support of the policy makers. So I think one of the things that you'll see from this group is a really important focus on that regulatory side of the discussion. That safety and soundness, that the key elements of a secure payment system have a strong regulatory oversight framework. Those are all critical inputs to actually creating a successful paytech system. What it will do is it will take out those organizations that probably shouldn't be in this space and it will elevate those that can create a more competitive marketplace. That in some cases will enable the big players and others will try and compete themselves.
Harinder: I was thinking about what you said Ben, because I had to do this interaction yesterday. Why do we believe that putting some cash in an envelope and putting that inside an automatic teller machine is actually a good thing? There is a significant amount of risk and all sorts of problems with that. But for some reason we've gotten used to that thing today and in 2019 it's like we should laugh at ourselves that we still do this. And I did that so completely.
We can help with that. But I think there should be a conversation about what is the right thing to do given that we are in 2019, and and some things just because they are, it doesn't mean they should continue to be.
Justin: So this sounds much more sophisticated when you get into it than it does on the surface. How does this, what you're doing relate to incumbents and banks who know payments, do payments, are trusted by Canadians to make payments? Then how does it relate to that or how do you relate to the incumbent financial infrastructure?
Ben: How do we relate? Coming back to your very first question, what is paytech? You know, I think you can make an argument, paytech isn't the domain of these new cool ventures. paytech I think is is something that cuts across incumbent, talking about the fundamental infrastructure of our payment system, and the individual organizations that control that have elements of paytech in their businesses. I think the story has multiple, it's kind of a choose your own adventure in some ways. In that you will have with the right infrastructure, you can have paytechs that will compete, and we've got some here as part of this group. You will have others that will work with the incumbents and enable. There's no, in my view, one right way here. I think again, given the market infrastructure we have today, to think that you're going to create a whole new host of competitors is probably unrealistic.
There will be some that will succeed and that that will become meaningful competitors. And again, the payments initiation piece I think really will help to amplify that. But there's also gonna be a number of paytechs within our organization, that will work with banks, that will enable banks. This is a topic that we've had around the table regarding what if one of the big banks wanted to join this organization? And in our view would be we will have and have a clear view of what we think are the important issues. If anyone agrees with those and wants to be a member, we won't stand in the way.
Harinder: One I think one of the things that we've noticed is that the whole size of the pie increases and everybody, everybody benefits. Because that's the nature of technology. You make something so much better that it creates an orbit jump in the way that things function. We actually create opportunities for us to be able to assess the lending ability of let's say, a particular merchant. And that is good for everybody who's a lender. Now, guess who in this entire capitalist market is the biggest lender? It's all the banks. So they actually gain from this. This is just one example, we have people from the largest banks in both in India and in Canada on our advisory boards, and so on and so forth. So that to me is not a question at all. I don't think it's a David versus Goliath or a zero sum game.
Justin: Shirley, you're kind of somewhere in between all of this. People's Group is a financial institution, perhaps not one of the largest in Canada, but a financial institute nonetheless. Where do you see all this laying out?
Shirley: Well, at people's, our vision, our mission is really about meeting and exceeding our customers expectations, by offering access to exceptional financial products to select markets. So we're already thinking the way paytechs do and we work closely with Fintechs and paytechs today. We do recognize that there are a lot of barriers even to smaller players like ourselves. As you said, we're not exactly the biggest bank in Canada. So we also face restrictions. So we're in favor of definitely making it more competitive. As long as safeness and soundness is still present within the payment system, we believe that competition's a good thing. So we're very happy to be participating in the paytechs of Canada board and we're looking for modernization. We're looking for more opportunities to bring better payments to Canadians.
Lawrence: So from our perspective, we think this is an opportunity to collaborate with and compete with banks in different areas. I think we forgotten what the real role of a bank in an economy is. And the real roles of bank is actually to lend. They make money out of thin air. You put a $100 in a bank, and it turns into a thousand. So they do this magic. In paytechs we're not doing that. We're just facilitating the movement of money. So in doing that, if we can do it better than banks, banks should let us do it. And if I try to draw an analogy to the wireless industry, and payment initiation, imagine how useless a mobile phone would be if you couldn't initiate a call on someone else's network? So that you couldn't roam anywhere else in the world. It's just insane.
Justin: Some days I wish that were true [crosstalk 00:29:17].
Lawrence: But it's just crazy if you couldn't do that on a mobile phone. So asking for payment initiation from a third party just seems like a no-brainer. It seems like the most obvious thing. It's probably where we should start.
Harinder: I think some entities like when money is stored and is safe and sound in one particular place. While the common theme across all paytechs is that we like money when it moves moves from one point to the other. So there's an organic tension there.
Ben: Well and, and the other element at play here is the whole consumer story. I think this is a discussion that we're having on the open banking side too. People will say, well did customers really want this? And it's that old, you know, Henry Ford Story. If you ask people what they wanted, they'd want a faster horse. That aside, there is still quite a bit of work to help people better understand some of the experiences and products and services that they're missing out on. I mean in Canada we're kind of insulated and when we look at our, as a population, fintech adoption relative to the rest of the world or other parts of the developed world, we are significantly behind.
As we talk about all the things we want to do at the governmental level and the industry engagement piece, we can never forget that at the core of this it's always about what's actually going to be useful and valued by the customer. The challenge is making that real. When you're talking about putting an infrastructure in that will change that, you've got to get to the step of putting the infrastructure in before people can really see it and feel it and understand it. So one of the things we want to try and also do is just to help consumers better understand what they're missing out on.
Justin: I heard the expression that when Google did Google maps, they didn't imagine Uber. But [crosstalk 00:31:14] something happens, so you know what that thing is.
Justin: So making change like this is hard. You're entrepreneurs and owners and there's obviously an economic benefit to you if you do. But I sense from you there's something more here. Where do you get the energy and how do you not get discouraged in trying to make change and see things better, when you could go and do something else that isn't as hard?
Harinder: I personally have hated getting cash in my wallet and this is a very emotional response to the answer. Because I think somewhere in your heart you have to believe in it. That's where you get the energy. I have not carried currency in my wallet since the last 15 years. It has caused me many problems in many places, but it's sort of a personal thing. And that drove me to sort of put up a poster in my office, that I put a few currency notes and I said, "I will make these obsolete."
It will sort of self reminder I believe in this and I think we as a company together have done enough effort in India to have done that. I think in Japan we'll be in a very significant situation before the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. This is the thing that at the core gives me energy to wake up in the morning and fight for this and make the fight worth it. I mean I actually should be carrying cash with me in downtown Toronto, and this is downtown Toronto. This is not a good thing and I think I have energy and motivation to continue fighting for it until the day I need to.
Ben: The time has also never been more right for these conversations given as we've mentioned a few times, the big topics that are on the plates of policymakers in Canada today as it relates to open banking. As it relates to the review of PIPEDA and data sharing and this big question about people controlling their data. As it relates to the retail payments oversight framework, and the definition of a PSP. We actually need to move really quickly. These aren't conversations that just started. In many cases they're well underway. Obviously the modernization effort being one of them. The best time probably would have been the year ago to have this group up and running. But the next best time is now, and so the timing of what's going on is perfect context for us to be bringing this more amplified voice to the table for paytechs in Canada.
Lawrence: I think from my side I'm naturally a builder. I like to build something from nothing, and stand back and see you've created something. And I think if we can do that at a national level, we can create some infrastructure that will allow innovation to really grow and thrive, and be the catalyst for a new generation of innovation. We can keep our best people rather than losing them to the US. We can stimulate the economy, we can really create some growth and some innovation here, excite some people. We can create another whole dynamic here. This is an amazing place and as Harinder already said, in downtown Toronto, you've got all the tech and all the banks. If we can't make it work here, it's never going to work anywhere in the world. Come on. I mean this is the most exciting thing on the planet.
We're sitting around arguing about who gets access to the rails and with you can initiate on someone else's network. It's crazy. Let's just get on and get it done.
Justin: I can feel it, I can feel it. So what happens this year? Are we going to see pickets on Parliament Hill or what happens? How does this play out?
Ben: So I mean in terms of what we're going to be focusing on, I think this year, number one is getting this organization fully formed. So the board right now is working through the strategy and the planning, and we're in the process of searching for an executive director. Like we just need some basic infrastructure in place. As we build that out, we are also identifying the big topics that we will be advocating for, and we've touched on most of them. So a big part of this organization's mandate will be around advocacy. Making sure that that the regulators and policymakers know and understand the views of this organization.
Justin: That's all very optimistic and a welcomed voice in Canada and to bring it together in a cohesive and prioritized way will be very helpful. As we kind of wrap up this dialogue, I'm going to ask each of you to give me your greatest hope for the payment system in Canada, and Shirley, we'll start with you. So your greatest hope for the payment system in Canada?
Shirley: So my greatest hope, what I'm looking for is competitive, vibrant, safe and sound payment industry in Canada where we take advantage of innovation to bring the best possible payment experiences to Canadians faster and low cost payments. That's where I'd like to see us.
Harinder: I think that the access to the most basic financial services should nearly be a human right. Not only is it a human right, it is also the most essential driver for any small business to grow and have a fleeting chance at becoming successful and becoming sustainable. We do not have that today. I hope that that is possible in Canada very, very soon.
Lawrence: So for me the fundamental thing to do, is just to have a level playing field. We can create a safe and sound ecosystem that will allow many participants to compete, and really stimulate the innovation there. We can't rely on just five institutions to do all the innovation in the country. If we offer access in terms of payment initiation, access to the rails, we can fundamentally transform the way we do all commerce today. Whether that's for a consumer, whether it's for a business. We can make much better lending decisions when we have data rich transactions, and we actually see what all of the parties that we want to lend to are buying and selling.
Ben: What I think we'd also like to see, which underscores most of this is also a bit of a rebalancing of this extreme focus, that as a country we've put on financial stability. And that's in no way shape or form to to undermine that or to dismiss that, that has to be in place. But maybe a slight rebalancing of the financial stability focus with a bit more on competition and innovation. And recognizing that if we're going to grow, if we're going to be a prosperous country, we need to be creating more companies like Nanopay and others, and giving people more opportunities like that.
Justin: Well that's all very optimistic and hopeful and I have a suspicion that this is not the last we will hear of you. Thank you very much.
Thank you all for joining me today for your efforts and commitment to payments and for organizing a much needed voice for the paytech industry in Canada. As always, the pay pod is available for download on your favorite podcast app or payments.ca. Join the conversation online using #modernpayments. That's all the time we have for this episode but join us next time as we continue to delve into the world of payments.