Canada’s real-time payment system launch pushed back to 2026

Canada's real-time payment system is now targeting a launch no earlier than 2026, following further delays to its roll-out.

Canada’s real-time payment system is now targeting a launch no earlier than 2026, following further delays to its roll-out.

Following a comprehensive second review, Payments Canada has announced plans to rejuvenate the RTR program, albeit with a delayed timeline, according to Finextra.

These setbacks have prompted the Real-Time Rail (RTR) project to involve new technology partners, in the form of IBM and CGI respectively.

The RTR initiative forms part of a broader, multi-year effort to modernise Canada’s payment infrastructure. Once operational, it promises to empower Canadians with the ability to initiate payments and receive funds instantaneously.

Leveraging the ISO 20022 messaging standard, the system is designed to ensure seamless transmission of payment information with each transaction.

While the exchange component, overseen by Interac, achieved completion in June 2023, the development of the real-time clearing and settlement aspect remains ongoing. This crucial phase is slated to continue throughout 2024, followed by extensive testing in 2025 and industry trials in 2026, signaling a prolonged path to full implementation.

Despite the revised timeline, specific details regarding the launch date remain undisclosed, as stated by Payments Canada interim co-CEO Jude Pinto, who affirmed the organisation’s commitment to providing updates in the forthcoming months.

Pinto explained, “We know the ecosystem is anticipating the launch of the RTR, and we will have further details to share in the coming months.”

“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.”

The decision to extend the project timeline follows a series of previous delays, initially targeting a launch as early as 2019, then rescheduled for mid-2023. Early in the year, Payments Canada commissioned a third-party review to assess delivery assurance, leading to recommendations for additional testing and investments.

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