Payment industry is focused on delivering final pillar of the RTR through ecosystem alignment and collaboration to support payment innovation, long-term sustainability and economic advancement for Canada.

OTTAWA, ON–Payments Canada announced a path forward for the Real-Time Rail (RTR), Canada’s fastest payment system. The new system will allow payments to be sent and received as well as cleared and settled in real-time 24/7, 365 days a year.

The real-time movement of money enabled by the RTR will give Canadians more control over their finances by allowing payments to be made in seconds not days and providing greater confidence that payments have been finalized. It will also provide the foundation for new payment products and services to be introduced by members and innovators leading to greater payment choice and convenience for all Canadians. The RTR will reflect Payments Canada’s commitment to provide a safe and secure foundation for participants to innovate upon, including a centralized fraud utility service.

The RTR is a complex, large-scale, multi-year infrastructure program that includes two key technical components: the build of the RTR exchange component provided by Interac, which was completed in June 2023 and will allow for the exchange of payment messages in real-time. The second piece is the build of the real-time clearing and settlement component.

“Over the past year, we have reviewed our path forward through engagement and collaboration from our members, regulators and key stakeholders. Our collective focus is on building a sustainable real-time payment system that will support long-term payment innovation and the continued advancement of our economy, Canada’s international economic competitiveness and provide value and benefit to Canadian consumers and businesses,” said Jude Pinto, Co-CEO (Interim) and Chief Delivery Officer, Payments Canada. “The last component of the RTR, the clearing and settlement build, will continue through 2024 prior to initiating testing of the new system through 2025 and into industry testing in 2026. We know the ecosystem is anticipating the launch of the RTR, and we will have further details to share in the coming months.”

The path forward for the RTR includes new partners IBM Canada and CGI, along with Interac, to support the delivery and operation of the RTR. As part of Payments Canada’s larger Modernization initiative, IBM Canada was the lead technology partner for the successful implementation and operation of Lynx, Canada’s high-value payment system, a key system underpinning the Canadian economy. The launch of Lynx represented a significant collaborative effort between Payments Canada, its member participants, regulators and technology partners.

“We are working in close collaboration and alignment with the payment ecosystem to deliver, as a team, the RTR for the benefit of Canadians,” said Pinto. “We are excited to bring the RTR program to fruition for Canada.”

Payments Canada and its members, stakeholders, regulators and vendor partners — CGI, IBM, and Interac who will together provide the applications, infrastructure and operations — will deliver a real-time payment system that meets the needs of Canadians.

“Establishing a payment system for Canadians to move money in real-time is critical for the Canadian economy. IBM is proud to continue our successful partnership with Payments Canada, bringing strong technology integration and operations expertise along with our IBM Payments Centre capabilities. We look forward to the implementation and operations of the RTR to advance the payment experience for consumers, financial institutions and businesses in Canada,” said Craig Eaket, Managing Partner, IBM Canada

“Having a real time payment system that enables Canadians to transfer funds instantly and securely is key to the transformation of Canada’s economy and opens the door to innovative payment offerings like mobile wallets and other application-based payments that can enable greater financial inclusion for all citizens. CGI is proud to bring our worldwide expertise and experience to the team as a partner in helping Payments Canada usher in a new era of payments in Canada,” said Guy Vigeant, CGI President, Canada

“Safe and secure real-time payments increase the velocity of money in our economy, leading to growth and prosperity for Canadians. Interac has been a leader in real-time payments exchange in Canada for more than two decades through the Interac e-Transfer Service. We are excited to take an expanded role in supporting Payments Canada in building and operating the RTR Exchange, and to explore delivering a centralized fraud and directory service as critical value-added services of the exchange, drawing on our proven expertise and delivery track record as a trusted connection point for faster digital payments,” added Jeff Henderson, Group Head and Chief Technology & Operations Officer, Interac Corp.

“Payments Canada has engaged collaboratively with its members to ensure understanding and alignment for the target state of this important real-time payment system for Canada. The CBA and its members look forward to working with Payments Canada towards successful and safe completion of Canada’s faster payment system,” offered  Anthony G. Ostler, President & Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Bankers Association

“To boost competition in Canada’s financial sector, Canada needs a real-time, always-on, data-rich payment system that has fair and level pricing for all participants, regardless of their size. More competition in financial services is a critical part of the broader agenda to make Canada a more affordable and productive place to live. We’re encouraged by Payments Canada and its members committing to launching the Real-Time Rail, catching Canada up to its G20 peers,” confirmed Alex Vronces, Executive Director, Fintechs Canada

We are on the cusp of changes that have the potential to improve the marketplace for small businesses across Canada in a big way. Real-time payments is one of them. Canadian businesses need access to fast, low-cost and efficient payment methods. The Real-Time Rail (RTR) will process funds instantly, with more data, resulting in smarter transactions that save small businesses time and money. The Government of Canada’s recent support for broader access to Payments Canada membership and access to its payment infrastructure — particularly the forthcoming RTR — will further the creation of a greater range of payment options and innovation. This will lead to new ways for businesses to invoice and pay each other with immediate access to their funds – meaning improved liquidity and efficiency. – Dan Kelly, President and Chief Executive Officer, CFIB

The Real-Time Rail project (RTR) is an important piece of national infrastructure which will support many services and use cases we are just beginning to imagine, and I look forward to seeing the innovation unfold. Equitable Bank is pleased that this announcement gives more clarity on the path forward for the RTR. It is time Canadians are able to benefit from a modern payments system that will support people and businesses in improving their everyday financial lives. – Andrew Moor, President and Chief Executive Officer, Equitable Bank and EQ Bank

As chair of Payments Canada’s Member Advisory Council, I look forward to the continued industry collaboration toward delivery of the final pillar of the Real-Time Rail (RTR). By using the ISO 20022 financial messaging standard, the RTR will allow more data to travel with each payment, creating opportunities for participants to offer smarter and faster services to the end user community. – Dougal Middleton, Member Advisory Council Chair and Vice President, Global Payments Platforms & Client Solutions, Scotiabank

On behalf of the Stakeholder Advisory Council, I would like to thank Payments Canada for its continued consultation and collaboration in regards to the delivery of the Real-Time Rail (RTR). With a clear path to delivering the final pillar of the program, Canada is making strides towards real-time payments that will allow the payment industry to deliver the best possible payment experiences to Canadians. – Daniela Aubry, Stakeholder Advisory Council Chair and Deputy Chief Payments Officer, Head of Client and Customers at Metrolinx

Payments Canada makes payments easier, smarter and safer for all Canadians. We are a public purpose organization that owns and operates Canada’s payment systems, Lynx and the Automated Clearing Settlement System (ACSS) and are responsible for the by-laws, rules, and standards that support these systems. In 2023, our systems cleared and settled over $112 trillion — more than $450 billion every business day. Some of the transactions that pass through our systems include debit card payments, pre-authorized debits, direct deposits, bill payments, wire payments and cheques. Payments are an essential part of our economy and way of life. From a down payment on a home, an invoice paid to a local business, money sent to a family member or a first paycheque — payments keep Canadians and the economy moving forward.

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