In times of crisis, the ability of governments to move money quickly and securely is vital to ensuring their citizens get the support they need. In addressing COVID-19, nearly every level of government has taken steps and promised funding for individuals and businesses. Whether the program under consideration involves employer payroll support, social assistance and unemployment payments, or direct aid to families, two primary methods for disbursing funding tend to enter the conversation: cheque and direct deposit.
Cheques require minimal amount of verification between government and citizen, as an individual typically just needs to provide basic information and an address to receive the benefit. The downside is that cheques are costly, take time to print and send and, given current physical distancing protocols, may create an additional concern for those involved in handling and processing.
For many years, direct deposit has been the primary method of payment for governments and the primary method of receipt for Canadians. Direct deposits require an upfront registration and identity verification before payments are made directly into individual bank accounts. While generally considered seamless and secure, direct deposit can create challenges when governments rely on it as the only channel for disbursement and there is a significant influx of new individuals or businesses that need to receive payments in a short period of time.
Interac e-Transfer Bulk Disbursements is a trusted product built on the Interac e-Transfer platform that offers a secure way to make many payments through a single file upload, without the need for the recipient’s banking information. In recent years, Interac has provided bulk money disbursement solutions that have enabled organizations such as the Canadian Red Cross to disburse money securely and in real-time to recipients in need. As an example, during the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfires, the Canadian Red Cross distributed $50 million through approximately 100,000 Interac e-Transfer transactions in a short period of time. The Province of Alberta has also recently begun distributing one-time COVID-19 relief payments via Interac e-Transfer for people who are self-isolating and are unable to work.
Interac e-Transfer is one of the safest and fastest ways to transfer money to anyone with an email or mobile phone number and a Canadian bank account. It is a platform already used and trusted across the country. In 2019, Canadians made 511 million Interac e-Transfer transactions, with a total volume of $175.9 billion. The service is also entirely digital and contactless, in accordance with physical distancing protocols.
Through our subsidiary, 2Keys Corporation — a national leader in enabling secure digital experiences for Canadian governments, financial institutions and commercial clients — Interac can also bring significant experience in identity management and verification to bear to facilitate quick and effective registration and validation of citizens who are seeking new and expanded benefits.
With a 35-year history of providing Canadians with access to their money, Interac is ready and willing to assist governments across Canada in implementing solutions to identify and distribute entitlements quickly and efficiently both now and in the future.