In April 2022, Interac reached a money movement milestone with Interac e-Transfer use surpassing more than one billion transactions over a 12-month period. Of all these Interac e-Transfer transactions, 19 per cent involved a business. In fact, almost half (47 per cent) of Interac e-Transfer users have leveraged the service to pay a small business.
Beyond numbers, these stats represent millions of businesses across Canada who showed their resilience, agility, and creativity to pivot overnight to digital payments at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, as businesses of all sizes and across all industries adapt and grow with the evolving needs of customers — one billion Interac e-Transfer transactions mark the increasing relevance of seamless, online, real-time payments for Canadians everywhere.
Powering pandemic pivots and strengthening relationships
For the last 20 years, Canadians have been using Interac e-Transfer in their personal lives to send and receive money quickly and safely. But when the pandemic hit, it accelerated the need to shift to contactless, digital payments — and that trust and familiarity naturally translated to using the service to pay for products and services. Many businesses and entrepreneurs turned to Interac e-Transfer to accept digital customer payments as a critical part of the pivot.
Anurag Kar, our AVP of Money Movement describes the pandemic’s impact on the digitization of payments in a recent interview with PYMNTS.com:
From accepting to making real-time payments, Interac e-Transfer gave Canadian businesses an immediate lifeline for the transition — while helping them strengthen relationships with customers, suppliers, and employees. With its simple user experience (all you need is an email account or phone number and a Canadian bank account), businesses could instantly accept money for new products and services, experiment with business models, and pay vendors and employees with a digital “paper trail.”
This was especially critical at a time when businesses had to develop new ways of reaching their customers, and cash flow was so unpredictable. When the pandemic hit, small businesses like Simone’s Caribbean on the Danforth had to pivot from dine-in to mostly take-out and catering. Using Interac e-Transfer was a crucial part of keeping the business going. It provided an effortless way to get paid directly and instantly for new catering services.
Meanwhile, entrepreneurs like made-in-Toronto menswear designer, Outclass, used Interac e-Transfer to help keep and develop robust relationships with local suppliers and manufacturers. For plant-based pasta sauce company, Nona Vegan, the platform became a go-to payment tool to help manage real-time cash flow and survive the pandemic’s constant ebbs and flows. “Everything was so unpredictable. So, our cash flow was super-duper tight.”
But as the pandemic turned the business landscape on its head, it also accelerated the trend for “the Great Resignation” and opportunities to make the most out of life. Kira Noel Photography started out as a passion project that quickly grew into a viable business. It was Kira’s kids who inspired her to start her own photography business, but soon friends and family started asking her to take their photos. Interac e-Transfer became a fast and easy solution to help her launch the business, without having to chase down payments or wait for cheques to clear.
Swipe through to see how small businesses used Interac e-Transfer to adapt and pivot to digital payments:
Pivoting to digital money transfers
Simone’s Caribbean: Jamaican restaurant
“The Interac e-Transfer service provides a quick way for me to be paid as an entrepreneur running a small business. I get compensated right away, it’s great.”Learn more
Outclass: Men’s fashion retail
“We have such personal connections with our suppliers. We send money via Interac e-Transfer to our suppliers, because we know they get the money faster – and that’s important to us.”Learn more
NONA Vegan: Plant-based Italian sauces
“I can send money when I need to send it and know that it’s coming out of my account at that moment, rather than sending a cheque and not knowing when it’s going to affect my cash flow balance.”Learn more
Kira Noel Photography: Family Photographer
“I can’t afford to wait for cheques to clear or to chase people down if a cheque bounces. Interac e-Transfer is a fast and easy solution for my clients and my business.”Learn more
Lignum Honey: 100% natural honey
“Interac has been a key pillar in building my business from the beginning. The easier it is for my customers to transfer payments, the more seamless the experience we can provide.”Read more
Thriving in the New Normal and beyond
One billion Interac e-Transfer transactions also shows the growing demand for online real-time payments. From receiving customer payments to paying vendors, suppliers, contractors and employees, Interac e-Transfer is quickly becoming standard business practice to improve operational speed, efficiency, cashflow — and build trust.
After the intensity and isolation of the pandemic, Canadians want to make up for lost time with the simple joys of shared experiences — while navigating the challenging reality of increased living expenses. As a digital payment based on real-time funds, Interac e-Transfer enables Canadian consumers to share costs with friends and family — while using their own money through a service they know and trust.
According to Kar, digital real-time payments will unlock efficiency and convenience for Canadians: “These types of transactions will continue to grow in importance across consumer and business segments.”
Although Interac e-Transfer was created as a P2P service, Kar explains that “what businesses really see out of Interac e-Transfer is a quick, simple, real-time capability for them to receive funds. That’s why we started seeing a lot of businesses adopting it.”
While the pandemic incited businesses to start using Interac e-Transfer, many quickly realized the power of real-time payments to eliminate paper cheques and invoices — for faster cash flow and reconciliation. From March 2020 to April 2021, active business users grew by 26.7 per cent, compared to the platform’s overall active user growth rate of just over 10 per cent.
In response to how businesses were increasingly using the platform for payments, the team at Interac created Interac e-Transfer for Business. The enhanced business version was designed to serve the needs of microbusinesses to enterprises — with real-time confirmations, higher transaction limits (up to 25K), flexible routing options, rich remittance data, and the ability to process bulk transactions and reconcile invoices automatically.
Kar explains the thinking behind the 2021 launch of Interac e-Transfer for Business and the opportunities for digital money transfers in Canada:
Today, these real-time, data-rich payments are helping Canadian businesses streamline accounting processes and accelerate paperless office strategies — while facilitating multiple payments at once. In fact, at Interac itself, we’re using Interac e-Transfer bulk payments to simplify the payroll process for contract workers.
Interac e-Transfer for Business is becoming widely applicable across industries and business sizes. For example, a small business owner can use the solution to pay employees securely, while spending less time on administration.
Meanwhile, a franchise can facilitate on-time vendor payments, and an insurance company can leverage it to distribute claims in real-time.
Kar believes that the gig economy will be one of the most important use cases to emerge next. “Instant payment of contractors is something that’s catching on in the United States, and we now have the ability here, thanks to real-time payments.”
Looking ahead to the future, he sums up: “We anticipate that digital, real-time payments will continue to increase in usage and uptake as organizations find new ways to incorporate them into the payment mix.”
Driving the growth of Canadian business and the digital economy
Interac is proud to support Canadian businesses as they move towards digital payments, to adapt, grow, and thrive in today’s digital economy. Businesses need to increasingly look inwards to embrace digital payment solutions for maximizing cash flow and internal resources — especially as Canadians seek seamless, real-time experiences while being in control of their own money. Behind one billion Interac e-Transfer transactions is the true ingenuity of Canadian business — to enhance the ways we connect with customers.