Canada’s most knowledgeable leaders share insights on payment innovation 

Canada's payments industry is in the midst of a revolution, with payments modernization as a driving force and technological advancements increasing consumer expectations and industry capabilities. It has never been a better time to come join the discussion, to understand how to ride the wave of innovation.

A selection of C-suite executives will gather at the Canadian Payments Innovation Forum next week (22nd November) in Toronto to debate the future of the industry. Five leaders from five different perspectives share exclusive insights into their thoughts on what is driving change and what the ultimate outcome will be.

  • Cyrielle Chiron, Managing Director – North and Latin America, RFi Group (CC)  
  • Rasha Katabi, Founder & CEO, Brim Financial (RK)
  • Riven Zhang, CEO, Motion Pay (RZ)
  • Peter Sweers, Chief Technology & Operations Officer, Interac (PS)
  • Sue Whitney, Head, Product Management & Strategy, Payments Canada (SW)


What is the biggest thing driving innovation in the Canadian payment scene?

PS: The biggest factor driving innovation in payments today is Canadian businesses and consumers. As mobile and digital commerce accelerates, Canadians are looking for payment solutions that are fast, secure and available when and where they need them.

RK: Today, consumers are demanding payments that match their lifestyles causing the pace of innovation to accelerate and payment models to evolve.

SW: The biggest innovation driver in Canada is Payments Modernization: it’s a multi-year, multi-stakeholder, multi-platform journey. We are focused on taking an approach that is right for Canada.

RZ: Disruptors. Consumers. Convenience. Since the entry of the PayPals, Apple Pays and hundreds of others big and small that followed on the Canadian scene, we have seen a total shift on who's driving innovation from Canadian banks to Fintechs/Payment techs that are quicker to fulfil consumers’ needs for convenience. 

What trends are we seeing around payment usage?

CC: Paper and mainly cheques are still widely used; however, Canadians expect to rely less on cash going forward and increase their usage of cards. We are also seeing a shift in the way consumers send money between each other. The use of online banking for peer-to-peer payments (P2P) is high and has grown significantly in the last 12 months. This is directly correlated with the growth of Interac e-transfer usage, which has been in part driven by the addition of new features over the past year. Our recent infographic* provides a great overview of all trends in the market.

What can Canadians expect from Modernization?

SW: There are exciting things on the horizon for Canadians. Moving to faster, real-time payments is driven by consumers and the digitalization of our society. If you can do it with email, then why can’t you do it with money?

CC: From an SME perspective, the new system will provide faster, safer, and more data-richer payments, helping them managing cash flow and their business better. Payments modernisation will also answer all customers pain points – by opening the system and allowing providers to participate more, customers are then left with more choice.

What remains the biggest challenges in the industry?

CC: Looking specifically at our Canada and US data, our research shows that 3 things are really key; security, reliability & acceptance. Education and reassurance are key to overcome all three.

PS: As a payments network with more than three decades of experience in connecting financial institutions to each other, to merchants, and to consumers, understanding the evolving payment needs of Canadians and building the necessary infrastructure and services to meet these needs—whether it’s real-time rail, innovations in Blockchain or enhancements to security and privacy protection—is both our biggest challenge and opportunity.

RZ:  Speed. It’s never fast enough. Adapting to the low speed of bigger payment players, banks and large retailers is a challenge. 

What does the next wave of payment innovation look like to you?

SW: Canada's Real-Time Rail will be a fast, secure, 24/7/365 system to facilitate the delivery of low-value payments; and a scalable platform that supports future innovation. We expect fintechs will have greater opportunities, particularly as providers of overlay products, resulting in new and innovative payment solutions for Canadians.

RZ: QR code payments are finding their place in the Western world as they are a true and very secure "payments anywhere" feature. Also, seamless payments like Amazon, Uber and others will become mainstream and will be transforming retail. 

PS: The next wave of payment innovation will build from the adoption of RTR/ISO20022 and the ability for people and businesses to complete data-rich transfers of funds in near real time. Once these services are in place there will be no shortage of new opportunities from the standpoint of business cost savings, organizational efficiency and consumer payment options.

RK: Globally open ecosystems. The retail revolution and e-commerce lead the way: we shop online seamlessly, both locally and globally. Consumer financial services and loyalty programs have not yet truly followed suit. Banks are global but they service each population within its own borders and sub ecosystem.  We understand there are many hurdles to overcome in this space to truly have a fully integrated experience.


For more information on the Canadian Payments Innovation Forum, 22nd November, please contact Sarah Hollinshead on

*View the infographic on opportunities for mobile payments in Canada  or to arrange a complimentary onsite presentation of the full insights behind the data, please contact: Jaime Cabrera, Commercial Director on or on +1 416 640 7126