SMEs in Canada call for further digital payment options

“Payments Pulse: Small Business Edition”, a fresh survey undertaken by Leger Marketing and Payments Canada has revealed that small and medium enterprises in Canada are demanding more digital payment options. It has become imperative for these businesses to provide a wider array of point-of-sale options to their customers as well as for back-office payments to vendors and suppliers. At the same time, they equally acknowledge that digital options such as e-transfers, e-wallets, and digital currencies are a means to make payments in a safer and more secure manner.

The online survey was carried out between December 29, 2017, and January 10, 2018, and comprised of 303 Canadian small business owners of companies with less than 499 employees.

Small business owners are keener to move away from cash

The demand for payment innovations is on the rise, according to Gerry Gaetz, President, and CEO of Payments Canada. This growth is largely boosted by small business owners who are demanding fast, safe and convenient digital payment formats. These alternative methods are urging them to move away from cash and cheques in the sense that they are also able to maximize margins. “Many firms are particularly interested in new ways to make business-to-business payments where larger sums of money can be transferred quickly without hold times or high transaction costs,” stated Dan Kelly, President of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, an advocacy group for 110,000 Canadian independent businesses.

Some of the key findings of the survey are as follows:

  • 81% of the participants surveyed are ready to implement new technologies into their operations
  • Startups and new businesses are expressing greater eagerness to do so, compared to those businesses in operation for 10 years or less.
  • 61% of the participants say they are willing to ditch cash if given other alternatives, while 67% are ready to move away from cheques under the same circumstances.
  • 54% of businesses surveyed state that they are losing too much time on payment processing activities
  • 87% of business owners consider that the payment industry should continue to evolve.

Fostering a data-rich payments environment

The Payments Canada’s Modernization program has been devised to introduce new systems, rules, and standards to foster not only a faster and safer environment but a more data-rich payment one. This program should primarily allow businesses to enhance real-time payment systems while allowing small businesses a wider plethora of payment choices. As part of this program, the ISO 200022 data standard will also be adopted in view of improving automation and efficiency and eliminating various hurdles in accounts. Innovative ways are also being explored to allow Canadian households and businesses pay for goods and services, and transfer funds in a convenient and safe manner.

Despite the fact that the Canadian payment system is reputed to be one of the most secure ones, the country recognizes the need to keep on evolving in the marketplace to boost economic competitiveness. Modernizing the payment system should make operations more efficient, allowing businesses to make massive savings on the $3 to $6.5 billion spent annually on payments. At the same time, such innovations should also lead to the emergence of new products and services, a boon for businesses in general.

Canada should prepare itself for the rise of social media payments

Another report published by Payments Canada- the Canadian Payment methods and Trends report- sheds light on the fact that online transactions and social media payments are poised to occupy a large part of the payments industry.

Online transactions grew by approximately 48%, reaching $177 million. Users demonstrated a higher level of confidence in online banking and online transfers soared to reach about 51% reflecting a value of $68 billion. Businesses are showing great willingness to adopt online transactions, carrying out 10% of the overall online transactions. In the past years, the percentage of online transactions carried out by businesses barely reached 5%. 

New partnerships in the fintech sector are also paving the way for a more consolidated form of social media payment. Various pilot projects are underway to offer new levels of convenience in banking and payments in general. At the same time, payment service providers from abroad have also started reaching out to Canadian users through online social networks such as WeChat Pay and Facebook payments. However, even if Chinese giants such as WeChat Pay and Alipay are planning to consolidate their position in North America, it is the use of the most popular services such as Facebook, Google, and Apple that hold the most promise for social media payments in Canada, as revealed in the “2017 Canadian Payment Methods and Trends”.

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