North America Paytech Trending

Third Time’s The Charm: Payments Canada Resumes Development of RTR Payments System

After two major delays, Payments Canada, an organisation that operates a payment clearing and settlement system in Canada, has resumed the development of the Real-Time Rail (RTR) payments system. 

The new system will allow payments to be sent and received as well as cleared and settled in real-time 24/7, 365 days a year. As a result of the new system, Canadians will have more control over their finances and be provided with greater confidence that payments have been finalised.

The RTR will also provide the foundation for new payment products and services to be introduced by members and innovators leading to greater payment choice and convenience for all Canadians. It will reflect Payments Canada’s commitment to provide a safe and secure foundation upon which participants can innovate, including a centralised fraud utility service.

The RTR is a complex, large-scale, multi-year infrastructure program that includes two key technical components: the build of the RTR exchange component provided by Interac, which was completed in June 2023 and will allow for the exchange of payment messages in real-time. The second piece is the build of the real-time clearing and settlement component.

Now is the time

The system was originally set to launch in mid-2022, however, in October 2022, Payments Canada revised the launch timing of RTR as it needed more time to validate and test the components and end-to-end integration of RTR. A date of mid-2023 was set for the launch.

Then later in June 2023, the RTR payment system saw further delays “unrelated to the exchange technology components”. Payments Canada set out three months to decide the best course of action going forward following its second review of the real-time payments system.

New partners bring momentum 

Now, a new path has been announced.

Craig Eaket, managing partner IBM Canada
Craig Eaket, managing partner IBM Canada

Going forward, RTR has included new partners IBM Canada and CGI, along with Interac, to support the delivery and operation of the RTR. As part of Payments Canada’s larger ‘Modernization’ initiative, IBM Canada was the lead technology partner for the successful implementation and operation of Lynx, Canada’s high-value payment system, a key system underpinning the Canadian economy.

Additionally, the launch of Lynx represented a significant collaborative effort between Payments Canada, its member participants, regulators and technology partners.

Commenting on the system, Craig Eaket, managing partner 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. We look forward to the implementation and operations of the RTR to advance the payment experience for consumers, financial institutions and businesses in Canada.

Guy Vigeant, president, CGI Canada
Guy Vigeant, president, CGI Canada

Guy Vigeant, president, CGI Canada also added: “Having a real-time payment system that enables Canadians to transfer funds instantly and securely is key to the transformation of Canada’s economy and opens the door to innovative payment offerings like mobile wallets and other application-based payments that can enable greater financial inclusion for all citizens. 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.”

Looking to the future
Jude Pinto, co-CEO (Interim) and chief delivery officer, Payments Canada.
Jude Pinto, co-CEO (Interim) and chief delivery officer, Payments Canada.

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

“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.

“As a team, we are working in close collaboration and alignment with the payment ecosystem to deliver the RTR for the benefit of Canadians,” said Pinto. “We are excited to bring the RTR program to fruition for Canada.”


  • Francis is a journalist and our lead LatAm correspondent, with a BA in Classical Civilization, he has a specialist interest in North and South America.

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