Payments Canada

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Payments Canada (formerly the CPA, Canadian Payments Association)[1] is an organization that operates a payment clearing and settlement system in Canada. The Canadian Payments Association was established by the Canadian Payments Act in 1980. Among other responsibilities, it regulates and maintains directories of bank routing numbers in Canada.[2]


Payments Canada is a corporation that:

  • Operates and maintains Canadian national systems for the clearing and settlement of payments and other arrangements for the making or exchange of payments;
  • Facilitates the interaction of Payments Canada's systems with others involved in the exchange, clearing and settlement of payments; and
  • Facilitates the development of new payment methods and technologies.[3]

Clearing and settlement systems[edit]

Clearing and settlement systems are essential to the smooth functioning of the economy. These systems allow financial institutions to calculate how much is owed to each other as a result of their customer's transactions and to transfer those funds to settle those balances.

Payments Canada operates three clearing and settlement systems.[4]

  1. The Large Value Transfer System (LVTS) is Canada's primary system for clearing and settling large value, time-critical Canadian dollar transactions. It provides participants and their customers with the certainty that, once a payment has passed the system's risk-control tests, the transactions are final and will settle on the books of the Bank of Canada the same day.[3]
  2. The Automated Clearing Settlement System (ACSS) is a system through which Canadian dollar cheques and electronic payment items, such as direct deposits, ATM withdrawals, point of sale transactions, online payments and pre-authorized debit and bill payments are cleared and settled. The system tracks the exchange of payment items and the resulting balances due to and from direct participants.
  3. Payments Canada also operates the U.S. Dollar Bulk Exchange (USBE), a parallel system to the (ACSS) used for payment items in US dollars in Canada.


In 2016, Payments Canada's systems cleared and settled 7.4 billion payments totaling over $50.8 trillion - $201.5 billion on average each business day.[5]


The organization has 115 members including the Bank of Canada, chartered banks, trust and loan companies, credit union centrals, federations of caisses populaires and other financial institutions. The Minister of Finance has oversight responsibilities for Payments Canada. The Governor of the Bank of Canada has oversight responsibility for the LVTS and ACSS under the Payment Clearing and Settlement Act.

The 13-member Board of Directors consists of the President; three directors who are directors, officers or employees of members that, in the normal course of business, maintain a settlement account at the Bank of Canada; two directors who are directors, officers or employees of members other than those described previously); and seven directors who are independent of the association and of its members.

A 20-person Stakeholder Advisory Council (SAC) provides advice and input to represent the diverse interests of users of the payments system. The SAC was established in 1996 on a voluntary basis and was formalized in the Canadian Payments Act in 2001.[6] The SAC provides advice to the Payments Canada Board of Directors on payment, clearing, and settlement matters, and contributes input on proposed initiatives, including by-laws, policy statements, and rules that affect third parties. It also identifies issues that might concern payment system users and third-party service providers, and suggests how they could be addressed.

Payments Canada's Member Advisory Council (MAC) serves as a consultative and engagement forum for Payment Canada's members. It was created in 2015, to ensure members continue to have a strong voice with the new majority-independent Board.[6]

Payments Canada is headquartered in Ottawa, with an office in Toronto.


Payments Canada ensures that significant rule changes follow an established public consultation process to seek input from key user groups. In 2010, it facilitated industry-wide innovation with frameworks for contactless debit payments. Payments Canada is leading the Canadian effort to adopt ISO 20022.[7]

In 2015, Payments Canada released a 5-year corporate strategic plan.[6] The core purpose of this strategic plan is to underpin the Canadian financial system and economy by providing safe, efficient and effective clearing and settlement of payments. Payments Canada has identified three long-term desired outcomes that will lead the organization to attaining their vision, addressing payment trends and managing risks. The long-term desired outcomes are as follows:

  1. Modernize: Payments Canada is undertaking a multi-year program to modernize the core payments systems, including the rules, standards and technology infrastructure in order to ensure safe, secure and innovative systems for the coming years. In May 2017, with the Bank of Canada and the R3 consortium, as well of some Canadian chartered banks, announced the results of a year-long trial of R3 consortium's DLT (Distributed Ledger Technology) which will not be adopted at this time by Canada for reasons of transaction privacy and scalability.[8]
  2. Operate and Enhance: While driving the Modernization changes, Payments Canada is continuing to ensure that the safety, efficiency and effectiveness of its current systems are met through required enhancements to technology resilience and rules and through changes that respond to business needs.
  3. Transition and Renewal: To be successful, Payments Canada must continue to build our organizational capacity and continue internal process improvements by focusing on leadership development, risk management, technology, operations and corporate administration.

Annual conference[edit]

Payments Canada holds Canada's largest payments conference, The Summit, on an annual basis.[9]


  1. ^ Finextra (15 June 2016). "Canadian Payments Association rebrands as Payments Canada".
  2. ^ "Financial Institutions File and routing numbers". FAQs. Canadian Payments Association. Archived from the original on March 30, 2015. Retrieved January 21, 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Consolidated federal laws of Canada: Canadian Payments Act". 17 November 2016. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  4. ^ "Canada's Major Payments Systems". Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  5. ^ "Annual Report 2016" (PDF). Payments Canada. Retrieved 2 June 2017.
  6. ^ a b c "2016-2020 Corporate Plan" (PDF). June 2016. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  7. ^ "The economic benefit of adopting the ISO 20022 payment message standard in Canada". 17 November 2015. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  8. ^
  9. ^ "The Payments Canada Summit". The Payments Canada Summit. Payments Canada. Retrieved 2 June 2017.

External links[edit]