Powering the future of digital payments solutions in Canada with Azure 

By: This blog post has been co-authored by Kevin Peesker, President, Microsoft Canada and Peter Sweers, Chief Technology & Operations Officer, Interac 

Payments are an important pillar of every financial institution; however, the rise of fintech, the shift in consumer demands, and the massive increase of volumes of data have changed the landscape and created a need for Canadian financial institutions to modernize their payment platforms. The onset of the pandemic propelled the growth of e-commerce and further accelerated the use of digital payments. In fact, according to a survey conducted by Interac, more Canadians are embracing the digital retail experience, with 53%  saying they increased their use of digital payments last year. In turn, Interac observed that this year “organizations will fast-track innovations within their own business models to incorporate efficient, digital, real-time payment tools and products.” 

As an integral part of Canada’s payment ecosystem, this trend has created a surge in demand for Interac solutions and spurred innovation. As part of its approach to facilitating accelerated growth, Interac is migrating its core software to the Microsoft Azure hybrid cloud platform.  As Interac shapes the next phase of innovation in near real-time payments and helps drive Canada’s economy forward, the company will be supported by access to Azure’s scalability, security and always-on resiliency.  

Across Canada, Microsoft Azure is empowering fintech companies and financial services institutions with its secure, compliant, and scalable platform for industry cloud solutions needs. As it migrates its applications to Azure, Interac will be able to reliably scale its solutions while maintaining the delivery of services that offer customers control over their money in today’s digital world. 

Driving Innovation with Faster Payments 

As a trailblazer in the Canadian payments industry, Interac develops innovative products and operates platforms that are relied upon by individuals and businesses across Canada more than 18 million times daily to make payments and exchange funds safely and securely. While balancing the complexities of these always-on services for Canadians, Interac is also focused on innovating technologies to deliver faster payments to the market.  

Achieving faster payments across the ecosystem requires a collaborative effort from financial services institutions to modernize payment infrastructure for efficiency and competitive advantage. Interac is making strategic investments in technology to enable faster data-rich payments, with increased scalability and resilience, enhanced security and fraud controls, and better redundancy. Part of this approach includes leveraging Microsoft’s cloud capabilities and security investments. The ultimate goal – real-time payments.  

Simply put, real-time payments (RTP) is a game changer. It enables a more frictionless banking experience with fewer holds, moving payments with the same quick response that people have come to expect from other modern services, such as instant messaging, video streaming, and on-demand delivery.  

For financial services institutions, once the core infrastructure is modernized to handle RTP, they have the power to unlock a whole new world of potential products and revenue streams. While RTP itself is a back-end payment process, the data created by the process offers a rich source of client insight based on a constant stream of payment information. Historically, financial institutions haven’t been able to do much with this data to improve their business, but new cloud-based tools make it possible to analyze this data in real-time to drive future innovation. By leveraging AI, machine learning and analytics, even large amounts of fast-moving data can be interpreted in context. 

Unlocking the Value of Cloud Computing 

Financial services institutions have a continued, heightened interest in migrating to the cloud to drive innovation, find efficiencies and create new customer experiences. In March, Microsoft launched the public preview of Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services, which offers an industry-specific end-to-end solution designed for even the most complex control frameworks and regulatory requirements. For a bank looking to grow and innovate, Azure offers greater security and controls than legacy, on-premises environments, and holds the key to helping unlock the value of data, improve business agility and gain a competitive edge. 

It’s an exciting time for digital payments in Canada and we are just at the tip of the iceberg. We look forward to continuing this collaboration and advancing key business priorities, including helping the ecosystem modernize payment infrastructure to bring efficiency and a competitive advantage to Canadian payments. 


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