May 29, 2019 /MEDICI/ – Bruce Schneier of IBM ended his main stage presentation at the Payments Canada Summit by telling the world not to use the blockchain. Although he was speaking from a security perspective, his words were more far-reaching than that. For decades, the payments industry has been plagued by archaic infrastructure, old messaging protocols, batch processes, and institutional players that are long in the tooth. The industry youngsters often wave the blockchain flag with the promise of a better, more efficient world. However, that only works if everyone hops on board to implement a common language for payments, both domestically and internationally.
This year’s Payments Canada Summit in Toronto prominently featured the importance of payments modernization and the need for industry participants to follow a common standard. Nearly every breakout session referred (either directly or indirectly) to Canada’s long-awaited real-time rails (RTR), the ISO 20022 standard – the good, the bad and the unconvinced – and, of course, Open Banking.
Canada has an infrastructure gem that few other countries can claim: Interac. In 2018, Canadians transferred CAD 132 billion over 371 million transactions using Interac’s instant bank-to-bank e-transfer product. For comparison, Venmo’s total payment volume for the same period was CAD 83.5 billion (USD 62 billion).