Payments Canada has selected Interac as the exchange solution provider for Canada’s upcoming real-time payments system, the Real-Time Rail (RTR).

Working closely with Payments Canada, Interac will be using the technology behind the Interac e-Transfer service in designing, building and operating the exchange solution for the RTR. This includes support for the ISO 20022 messaging standard to support payments information travelling with every payment, as well as compliance with the Bank of Canada’s risk management standards for prominent payment systems.  

“As a Canadian company, Interac is proud to play a unique role in shaping the future of payments for our country by working with Payments Canada to build the RTR. Our experience with Interac e-Transfer uniquely qualifies us to play this role. This service is near real-time and facilitated 764 million transactions in 2020, an all-time high. With Interac e-Transfer, we have the core technological components to support the RTR exchange, while at the same time bringing our experience in good funds, interoperability, ubiquity, real-time money transfer, and governance through all financial institutions,” a spokesperson for Interac told IT World Canada in an email. “Developing new ways for Canadians to pay for goods and services and transfer money will have positive consequences for the future of our economy.”



Payments modernization in Canada


Canada is unlike other countries that have modernized their payment systems. The country is one of only a few that has an incumbent in the retail payments space – Interac e-Transfer – already fulfilling some of the needs in the marketplace related to real-time payments.

The RTR is a key part of Payments Canada’s multi-year industry program to further modernize the infrastructure, rules and standards that underpin payments in Canada. Operated by Payments Canada and regulated by the Bank of Canada, the RTR will allow Canadians to initiate payments and receive irrevocable funds in seconds, 24/7/365.

The Real-Time Rail is designed to enable a variety of individual and business payment use cases that benefit from the real-time availability of irrevocable funds, and/or the use of payment data that travels with the payments. The Real-Time Rail will provide a fast and data-rich alternative to cheques and Automated Funds Transfer (AFT) payments, Payments Canada

Some potential use cases that the RTR will enable, as described by Payments Canada, include governments being able to distribute emergency funds in a matter of seconds directly into citizens’ bank accounts. With the information about the payments travelling with the payment, businesses can pay individuals for the time they’ve worked immediately after their shift. This supports Canada’s growing gig economy and flexibility for business hiring, and individuals receiving their insurance emergency disbursement who don’t have to wait for a cheque.

Expected to launch in 2022, RTR consists of two components: A clearing and settlement component and an exchange component. Interac is the second solution provider for the country’s upcoming real-time payments system, Mastercard-owned Vocalink being the first one. Vocalink was selected by Payments Canada last year to operate the settlement component of RTR.



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