Retail Payments & Enhanced Automated Funds Transfer

Modernization includes enhancing Canada’s existing retail payments system, the Automated Clearing Settlement System (ACSS), to enable Canadian businesses to move funds more frequently and make same day settlements. Along with system enhancements to strengthen alignment with international best practices and risk management standards.

Modernization also includes the future introduction of a new enhanced centralized retail batch payments system.

In 2018, Payments Canada delivered a new Credit Risk Model for the ACSS. Followed by improvements to Automated Funds Transfer (AFT) to add an exchange window and speed up funds availability. ISO 20022 messages and rules for the exchange of AFT payments between Payments Canada participant financial institutions are available, based on a market driven approach.

Key Outcomes

  • Data-rich payments to streamline reconciliation and enable straight-through processing
  • Ability to exchange same-day batch payments introduces new business opportunities
  • Increased automation and improved risk management
  • Ability to make last minute, time-sensitive payments
  • More frequent daily exchanges, meaning faster funds availability
  • Introduction of a third daily exchange window, increasing convenience for Western Canada



Design, build and testing in support of new two-hour funds availability and third daily exchange window for AFT


Introduction of two-hour funds availability for AFT and third daily exchange window

2018 – 2020

ACSS regulatory enhancements in support of facilitating better, faster payment options

2019 (ongoing)

Early ISO 20022 adoption on AFT

2020 – 2022

New retail batch payments system planning and design


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.

Canada’s retail payments system, known as the Automated Clearing Settlement System is where the vast majority of payments in Canada are cleared. That amounts to about 28 million transactions on an average business day. Automated Funds Transfer – also known as Electronic Funds Transfer or batch payments – move roughly 1.7 billion payments in Canada every year and represent the greatest value of payments in the retail payments system.

In 2018, modifications were implemented to Canada’s existing retail batch payments system, the Automated Clearing and Settlement System (ACSS), that allow Canadian businesses to move funds more frequently and make same day settlements. Benefits are most substantial for companies in Western Canada. In addition, the ACSS was collateralized as part of the strategy to enhance the safety and soundness of the payments system. In 2019, we implemented additional enhancements to further reduce system risk, address regulatory requirements and strengthen overall alignment with global best risk management practices, including progress on broadening access to the ACSS, increasing collateral coverage and removing the the 0.5 per cent volume requirement.

Focus is on prioritization of enhancements to the Canada’s current retail batch payments, the Automated Clearing Settlement System, in advance of progressing to a new, centralized payments system.