At the Payments Canada Summit, 9-11 May 2018 in Toronto, the historically conservative Canadian Financial Industry heard some consistent themes from many of the conference speakers: technology change is happening now and will continue to accelerate, so adapt quickly or be left behind. And data is the new currency.
The World Wide Web Consortium’s (W3C) Web Payments lead Ian Jacobs was invited to moderate one of the first panels titled, “Streamlined Checkout on the Web,” together with Shopify’s Andre Lyver, Director of Engineering, and Google’s Anthony Vallee-Dubois, Software Developer, who are active contributors to the technical work.
The trio presented an overview of the W3C’s royalty-free standards work to make online checkout faster and more secure on the Web, and showed demos of implementations by Shopify and in the Google Chrome browser that are working today. At the W3C table in the exhibit hall, Jacobs and Lyver demonstrated how using the simplified “buy button”, and reusing browser-stored data, enables the completion of shopping transactions more quickly and securely.
Lyver presented some very early findings based on Shopify’s experimentation with the W3C’s Payment Request API, including findings of reduced checkout times through the browser interface, and popularity amongst shoppers around surfaced discount codes. Coupons, discount codes, and loyalty programs are under discussion in the W3C’s Web Payments Working Group and Commerce Interest Group.
Following the W3C panel session on Web Payments, the opening day keynote presentations previewed technology changes happening today, or arriving in the very near future. Stacey Madge, Country Manager and President at Visa Canada, envisioned a “wave a connectivity of everything” where Visa will embed credentials into all types of connected devices. Madge referenced a partnership between Visa and Honda to develop APIs for pay-at-the-pump and parking location and payment scenarios. W3C’s Automotive Web Payments Task Force is currently looking at how the Web m to these same use cases.
MasterCard’s Jessica Turner, EVP Digital Payments and Labs, emphasized EMVCo’s secure approach to payments using tokenization technology and echoed the coming ubiquity of IoT payments across devices.
Asheesh Birla, SVP of Product at Ripple, explained how Blockchain technology is solving problems such as close cross-border payments and smart contracts that will help to reduce costs and help to build “the Internet of Value.” Ripple is building community around the related Interledger protocol in the W3C Interledger Payments Community Group.
Ulku Rowe, Technical Director Financial Services at Google, stressed the need for financial institutions to create a culture of innovation to keep pace with today’s environments of cloud computing, machine learning modules, and data analytics. Rowe said the old model of ‘big versus small’ is no longer relevant; it’s whether you are ‘fast or slow’ and can accelerate the transformation of financial services companies to become technology companies.
From a more personal perspective, Frank W. Abagnale, Jr., cybersecurity, fraud and identify theft prevention consultant and author (Catch me if you can), addressed attendees via videoconference on the final day of the summit. Abagnale offered pragmatic tips for companies and individuals to be more responsible for instilling rigorous security practices.
To protect personal identities, Abagnale advised: avoid paying with checks whenever possible because of the personal and bank account information printed on them; use confetti rather than strip shredders for any paper documents, even direct mail flyers, that have any personal information; use credit monitoring services and follow-up immediately on any anomalies; use credit cards rather than debit cards for purchases because the liability protections are better.
In closing comments, main stage host Bruce Croxon, recognized in Canada for his success as an entrepreneur, venture capitalist for startups, and media personality on CBC-TV’s “Dragons’ Den” and now BNN’s “The Disruptors,” encouraged fintech entrepreneurs to create solutions to real problems that have the potential for large market impact.
Payments Canada CEO Jan Pilbauer’s closing keynote painted a future of many innovations for the financial services and payments industry, including embedded payment systems as part of connected devices in home, work and outdoor environments.
Payments Canada, a W3C member organization headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario, ensures that financial transactions in Canada are carried out safely and securely each day. The organization underpins the Canadian’s financial system and economy by owning and operating Canada’s payment clearing and settlement infrastructure, including associated systems, bylaws, rules and standards. The value of payments cleared by Payments Canada’s systems in 2017 was approximately $50 trillion or $200 billion every business day. These encompass a wide range of payments made by Canadians and businesses involving inter-bank transactions, including those made with debit cards, pre-authorized debits, direct deposits, bill payments, wire payments and cheques.
Payments Canada is currently undergoing a multi-year modernization initiative based on a comprehensive roadmap for policy, process and technological improvements for all ecosystem participants.