Every day, millions of Canadians depend on the Interac e-Transfer platform to send and receive money. Today usership is at an all-time high, accelerated by Canadians’ shift to digital payments during the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the beginning of the pandemic, over 1 billion Interac e-Transfer transactions took place, valuing more than $350B.
Canadian businesses are increasingly using the Interac e-Transfer platform for its convenience, security and real-time payment capabilities. In fact, since March 2020 there has been a 113 per cent increase in volume of Interac e-Transfer transactions received by a business, and from March 2020 to April 2021, active business users grew by 26.7 per cent compared to the platform’s overall active user growth of just over 10 per cent.
Interac Reports spoke to Anurag Kar, AVP, Money Movement, to discuss the popularity of Interac e-Transfer among consumers and how the solution can benefit Canadian businesses in the digital economy.
The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Q: Why is Interac e-Transfer so popular among consumers?
AK: Interac e-Transfer is the most efficient way to send money to another person, especially as more than half of Canadians said digital payments became their default during the pandemic. The need to share money doesn’t go away; people are always going to split bills, pay rent, make group purchases, send money to family and friends or pay for services. The issue is: What’s the payment option at their fingertips at their time of need?
For Canadians, Interac e-Transfer instead of cash or cheques is one of the most flexible payment options. It’s easily accessible from your smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer and it’s ubiquitous across the country. In fact, we found 90 per cent of Canadians use the Interac e-Transfer service regularly, up from 76 per cent pre-pandemic.
Q: From your perspective, what are the key takeaways of this strong growth?
AK: The growth of the service is among the highest since 2005. If you look at it from an economic view and a product life cycle view, that doesn’t generally happen. The product life cycle usually goes up and then slowly comes down. During the pandemic specifically, we not only saw Canadians increase their Interac e-Transfer usage, but some used it for the very first time. Consumers have come to trust Interac e-Transfer as a secure, convenient and reliable service and are transacting comfortably on the platform.
Businesses of different sizes have begun to recognize the potential of the platform for their business transactions, so we are seeing some growth coming from them. Overall, we see strong opportunities for businesses to consider this type of platform for their payments needs.
Q: What can business customers take away from these stats?
AK: There is appetite within the business community for more digital payment solutions to not only create efficiencies within their organizations, but to remain competitive within the digital economy. We found 17 per cent of Canadians used Interac e-Transfer to pay for a purchase at a local business and 13 per cent to pay a tradesperson. As Canadians accelerate their use of digital payment solutions, businesses must keep up.
Q: So, how can businesses keep up?
AK: The Interac e-Transfer platform in the individual person-to-person and retail spaces will expand a little further. Interac e-Transfer can be used by everyone else in terms of businesses, small- and micro-businesses, giggers, and more. So going forward, it’s about bringing that population of P2P into the business world. That’s the next horizon: how to look at the business landscape and bring businesses to where individuals already are—using Interac e-Transfer for Business in record numbers.
Q: Can you tell me about how Interac e-Transfer will expand to suit businesses?
In terms of small businesses and giggers, we’ve already launched features like Autodeposit and Request Money that are tailored for one-to-one small business and gigger interactions. Autodeposit lets them receive funds automatically without answering a security question, while Request Money helps them collect outstanding bills by sending requests for payment.
We’re enhancing Interac e-Transfer in ways that directly address challenges businesses face around data, speed, operational efficiencies and higher limits. Elements of the service are already compatible with ISO20022, the global standard for electronic messaging, to incorporate invoices and alternate payment options, offering greater flexibility to the market. Interac has further optimized the service by putting the groundwork in place to raise transaction limits securely and better meet the needs of industry.
As the payment and digital information network in Canada, our main goal is to connect individuals and businesses to the funds they have to transact with one another. Our focus is always on making day-to-day payment interactions easier for Canadians. That’s our design premise, always.