The Plan

A modern payments system will provide new opportunities to simplify and enhance Canadians’ daily payment interactions to secure and strengthen our competitive position as a global leader in financial services.

Payments Drive Our Economy

The value of payments cleared by Payments Canada’s systems in 2019 was approximately $55 trillion.

Or, $218 billion every business day.

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Payments are changing

The payments landscape is changing, and so are the needs of Canadians. Payments Canada is working to modernize Canada’s payment systems.

nine per cent decrease

Cash in Decline

Canadians have been quick to embrace new technology and digital payments.

Cash payments declined by nine per cent in 2019 with cash usage accounting for just less than 19 per cent of total payments volume and is expected to continue to decline steadily.

Modernization is a multi-year Payments Canada initiative to modernize the systems and rules that are essential to Canada’s payments ecosystem.

Modernization began in mid-2015

Consultations with more than 100 organizations within the Canadian and global payments ecosystem.


In April of 2016 a Vision for Canadian payments was established:

A modern payments system is fast, flexible and secure, promotes innovation and strengthens Canada’s competitive position.

The Vision identified eight needs of a modern payments system

Faster payment






Open & risk-based

Platform for

ISO 20022

ISO 20022 is global standard for electronic data interchange between financial institutions.

Research shows that Canadians could save up to $4.5 billion over five years through reduced cheque use thanks to ISO 20022. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.



The payments ecosystem in Canada (and around the world) is rapidly changing: Consumers and businesses want faster payments and access to funds, enhanced security and privacy. Businesses want richer payment data and operating environments that promote efficiencies like end-to-end straight-through processing. Also, the Department of Finance and the Bank of Canada – who both have oversight responsibilities for Payments Canada – have expressed strong support for payment system modernization for both risk reduction and promotion of the public policy objectives. Payments Canada’s payments infrastructure, rules and standards need to be updated to better enable payments providers to innovate and products and services to better meet end user needs. For more information on why Payments Canada is modernizing the Payments system, view the Companion Reader to the Vision or the Canadian Payment Ecosystem.

In 2015, with the support of McKinsey and Company, Payments Canada developed a Vision for the Canadian payments ecosystem which included soliciting input from more than 100 organizations (i.e. system participants, service providers, fintechs, consumers, businesses and governments). Payments Canada held numerous workshops, interviews and collaborative sessions with key stakeholders across the country, gathering valuable qualitative insights to shape the Vision.

Payments Canada will continue its ongoing engagement on Modernization with stakeholders through all phases of the initiative. You can also email us your comments at

Additionally, Payments Canada consults on Modernization with the Stakeholder Advisory Council (SAC) and Member Advisory Council (MAC) on an ongoing basis. MAC serves as a consultative and engagement forum for Payments Canada membership and is representative of the diversity of our membership, while SAC represents the views of our broad base of stakeholders, including consumer associations, businesses, retailers, governments and service providers. Each 20-person council, codified in the Canadian Payments Act, provides important counsel and advice to Payments Canada’s Board of Directors on a continuous basis.

Payments Canada works closely with other infrastructure providers (i.e. the Bank of Canada, card networks, and scheme operators) and payment service providers and we will continue to have an ongoing dialogue with them to support progress in Canadian payments.

Payments Canada is exploring and keeping informed on the progress being made with new technologies, including blockchain and distributed ledger systems, which have become hot topics in the industry. While no decisions have been made about the use of specific technologies to support our Modernization initiative, we remain very interested and engaged in discussions about this technology, but we understand there are many questions left to be answered about its applicability.

Payments Modernization around the world continues to progress, addressing consumer and business needs for greater speed, flexibility and security. Canada is in the middle of the pack on payments Modernization initiatives. We need to keep pace.

As of fall 2020, there are 56 real-time payments systems currently in operation around the globe. Reports also indicate that there are more than 100 completed or in progress ISO 20022 migration initiatives across the global financial industry.

During our Vision exercise we discovered that there is no “one size fits all” approach to modernizing payments. There are commonalities between jurisdictions with modernized payment systems, however each region is slightly unique. Our Modernization initiative is an industry-wide journey that will support the Canadian economy by strengthening the safety and soundness of our core payment systems, facilitating innovation and competition.