Payments Canada resumes delivery of Real-Time Rail

Ellie Duncan
16 Apr 2024

Payments Canada has resumed the final part of the build of its instant payment system, the Real-Time Rail (RTR), with new partners IBM Canada and CGI, along with Interac.

The build of the RTR exchange component, provided by Interac, was completed in June 2023 and will allow for the exchange of payment messages in real-time.

The same month, Payments Canada announced a further delay to the launch date of RTR, as it conducted a second review of the delivery of Canada’s payment system.

Today (April 16), Payments Canada revealed that the second piece of the multi-year infrastructure program, which is the build of the real-time clearing and settlement component, will get underway.

“Over the past year, we have reviewed our path forward through engagement and collaboration from our members, regulators and key stakeholders,” said Jude Pinto, interim co-chief executive officer and chief delivery officer of Payments Canada.

“Our collective focus is on building a sustainable real-time payment system that will support long-term payment innovation and the continued advancement of our economy, Canada’s international economic competitiveness and provide value and benefit to Canadian consumers and businesses.”

Pinto added: “The last component of the RTR, the clearing and settlement build, will continue through 2024 prior to initiating testing of the new system through 2025 and into industry testing in 2026. We know the ecosystem is anticipating the launch of the RTR, and we will have further details to share in the coming months.”

CGI, IBM Canada and Interac will support the delivery and operation of the RTR.

IBM Canada was the lead technology partner for the implementation and operation of Lynx, Canada’s high-value payment system which was launched in September 2021.

Craig Eaket, managing partner at IBM Canada, said: “Establishing a payment system for Canadians to instantaneously move money is critical for the Canadian economy.

“IBM is proud to continue our successful partnership with Payments Canada, bringing strong technology integration and operations expertise along with our IBM Payments Centre capabilities.”

CGI Canada president Guy Vigeant said that the real-time payment system “opens the door to innovative payment offerings”, including mobile wallets and other application-based payments that can enable greater financial inclusion.

“CGI is proud to bring our worldwide expertise and experience to the team as a partner in helping Payments Canada usher in a new era of payments in Canada,” Vigeant added.

In February this year, one of the proposals put forward by Fintechs Canada in its pre-Budget submission to the federal government was around how the government can provide ongoing support for RTR.

In response to today’s announcement, Fintechs Canada’s executive director Alex Vronces said: “We’re encouraged by Payments Canada and its members committing to launching the Real-Time Rail, catching Canada up to its G20 peers.”