Canadian demands for speed and convenience influencing payments innovation

Payments Canada’s 2018 Methods and Trends Report explores new trends in how Canada pays

OTTAWA, December 10, 2018 - Canadian businesses and households are ready for better payment options, according to new data from Payments Canada. The organization’s annual Payment Methods and Trends Report, released today, shows that Canadians are increasingly choosing digital payments and adopting new payment channels, demonstrating a growing appetite and readiness for payments innovation.

“The payment experience of customers is more relevant than ever before as it has become a key space for businesses to compete,” said Anne Butler, Chief Legal Officer and Head of Research and Policy. “This year’s report provides important insights for businesses, financial institutions and new market entrants. Most notably, Canadians are demonstrating a propensity for a faster and more convenient payment experience. That’s resulted in the domination of credit cards, but it also indicates a clear opportunity for wider innovation in the payment space, something the industry is enabling through payments Modernization.”

The 2017 data show that Canadian consumers are opting for faster and more convenient methods of payment, such as tapping a card or phone at point-of-sale, sending funds electronically through INTERAC e-Transfers, making more purchases online and in-app and leaving traditional forms of payment, like cash and cheque, by the wayside.

Businesses too are adopting digital payments, leveraging credit cards, INTERAC e-Transfers, and Electronic Funds Transfers (EFT) more frequently and reducing their use of cheques. Wider adoption of electronic payments by businesses is expected once faster and more data-rich payment options become available through Payments Canada’s Modernization program.

A deep dive into the 22 billion payment transactions made in 2017 uncovers some data and trends:

  • Canadians are choosing to tap their cards or phones at the POS in lieu of using cash, and increasingly in lieu of chip-and-PIN, with 55 per cent growth for both contactless volume and value since 2016.
  • Debit card use accelerated in 2017, primarily due to prevalent use of card and mobile tap, a space where Canada continues to claim the top spot.
  • With 90 per cent of Canadians owning credit cards, lucrative rewards programs appealing to both consumers and businesses, and preeminence in the expanding e-commerce space, credit cards continued to dominate, with use increasing by 33 per cent since 2012.
  • All cards experienced year-over-year growth, accounting for 64 per cent of the volume of payments made at the POS, both in person and online. A key driver of card use is the connection into technologies like mobile phones, game consoles and smart speakers, which are emerging as fast and convenient payment channels.
  • Electronic payments thrived in 2017, including a 48 per cent volume increase in online transfers, primarily due to the growing use of INTERAC e-Transfers by both consumers and businesses.
  • Electronic funds transfers (EFT), associated with payroll and consumer bill payments, was the dominant payment method for large transactions in Canada, making up 47 per cent of the value of payments in 2017. EFT use continued to increase in both the consumer and business space.
  • There has been an accelerating decline in cheque use since 2014. There were 282 million fewer cheques written in 2017 than in 2012 in favour of EFT, credit cards and online transfers. Still, remaining cheques are being written for increasingly higher amounts, indicating a need for a better alternative for higher value, remote payments.
  • Cash use continues to decline but less significantly than in the past. While it remains a widely used payment method, consumer preferences have clearly evolved; cash use for lower value lifestyle purchases like buses, taxis, and coffee is down by nearly 20 per cent since 2012 as people convert to mobile and cards.

For more information and to read the full report, please visit PDF icon Canadian Payment Methods and Trends (CPMT) report​.

The CPMT report was compiled by Payments Canada with the help of payment service providers, payments consultants and researchers to help build a comprehensive understanding of the Canadian payments landscape in 2017.

For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact:

Tricia Weagant, 613-806-5168, tweagant@payments.ca

About Payments Canada

Payments Canada ensures that financial transactions in Canada are carried out safely and securely each day. The organization underpins the Canadian financial system and economy by owning and operating Canada’s payment clearing and settlement infrastructure, including associated systems, bylaws, rules and standards. The value of payments cleared and settled by Payments Canada in 2017 was over $50 trillion or $199 billion each business day. These encompass a wide range of payments made by Canadians and businesses involving inter-bank transactions, including those made with debit cards, pre-authorized debits, direct deposits, bill payments, wire payments and cheques. Payments Canada is a proud supporter of the Catalyst Accord and the 30% Club.