Some results from Interac Corp. on Friday show the novel coronavirus and its attendant restrictions are pushing Canadian consumers and businesses toward digital payments, a trend the company says could have lasting effects.
In April, e-Transfer transactions reached a record level at 61.3 million, according to the announcement from Interac, which operates the national switch in Canada for electronic payments. The e-Transfer capability allows consumers to pay others via online banking. First-time use helped drive up the numbers for the service, with new users growing by 43% since mid-March.
The growth in new users is particularly important, Interac says in a release Friday, as it “suggests that the shift to digital will last beyond pandemic measures.” In response to the global pandemic, many countries have required businesses to close or restrict commercial activity and consumers to remain at home. All told, the network handled nearly 512 million e-Transfer transactions last year.
Another key indicator is the spread of payments on Interac’s debit for in-app and in-browser service, which became widely available in October. The service lets users pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay within stores’ mobile apps. These transactions have increased at a double-digit rate since the middle of March, Interac says. Contactless transactions on Interac Flash have grown 5% over the same period.
“This digital shift isn’t unexpected, but crisis situations compress timelines and Canadians are quickly seeking out secure and convenient digital payment options adhering to physical-distancing recommendations,” William Keliehor, chief commercial officer at Interac, said in a statement. “Covid-19 is accelerating a new era in payments driven by the changing needs of Canadians and Canadian businesses, and for many, these convenient ways to pay will have a stickiness factor that will influence a long-term shift in behavior.” Covid-19 is the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus that became a worldwide threat in March.
Toronto-based Interac’s debit network links almost 300 financial institutions. Among its owners are banks, credit unions, processors, and merchants.