There is little question that digital payments are the way of the future. And as Canada embarks on its payment modernization, the government must ensure the fundamentals are in place, cyber postures are at their peak, and the public sector is leading by example.
It starts with the basics. For a true digital economy to take root, all Canadians must have the means and access to point, click, and pay no matter their point of origin. That access is taken for granted in major urban centres where broadband reigns supreme, yet remains lacking in reliability and strength of service in some remote regions and among traditionally under-serviced communities. We also assume a majority of Canadians have access to the smartphones, email capabilities, and connectivity needed to make digital payments. As a result there is a need to unite telecommunication players and industry stakeholders to deliver digital payment capabilities to all Canadians – even in cases and regions where there is little commercial motivation the greater public good should prevail.
We cannot afford to take our security for granted either. Current e-transfer systems remain vulnerable to theft, interception, and corruption by cyber threats. As such, the government must work in tandem with banks, Payments Canada, and the Ministry of Finance to better shield our virtual borders.
Lastly, government need to play a more leading role in addressing the prevalent use of paper cheques, by publishing tangible definitive requirements and timelines for implementation of real digital alternative payment mechanisms, we cannot expect the country to follow suit. Consider that Canada still allows cheques to be cut for $25 million while many countries have driven that value down to as low as $50,000, and one can see why Canadian players might not be motivated to invest in paper-less alternatives. Until that limit is lowered and the government demonstrates greater faith in using and pursuing digital payments, the movement towards digital payments will be unambitious at best.
Access for all, world-class security, and public sector stewardship. Only when these elements are plugged in can Canada make a genuine push towards a digital economy.