What Were the Payments Canada Summit Insights?

Square-ad-on-events-pageOn May 24-26, I attended the Payments Canada Summit in Toronto and many hot topics were covered over these three days. Amanda Lang did an incredible job hosting what was said to be the largest event for Canadian payments executives.

The most discussed topics of the Summit were certainly the importance of blockchain and the upcoming 2018 review of the Canadian Payments Act and how it will affect regulations. Blockchain is gaining a much stronger hold on the industry – last year’s venture capital investments totaled almost $1 billion – and 2017 is set to be the year it really makes its presence known. After all, major companies are starting to recognize its importance and increase its use. IBM, a major force in the business world, has over 400 blockchain clients globally…and that number is growing. In fact, Marie Wieck, Head of Blockchain Technology at IBM, stated that IBM has worked on more blockchain projects than any other player in the industry.

The powerhouse banks and FinTech startups are collaborating (in true Canadian fashion) to remake our financial industry business models (in true Uber fashion). Borrowell partnering with CIBC and Flybits partnering with TD were well-presented examples in panel discussions.

In a panel discussion. Andrew Moor, CEO of EQBank, and Todd Roberts, SVP, Innovation at CIBC, went toe-to-toe promoting the largest digital bank in Canada and traditional face-to-face banking respectively, with Payments Canada Lib Gibson supporting each side on different topics. Although the discussion was pointed, Andrew Moor’s example of a Swedish bank closing half of their branches and set to close another half was undebatable and  indicative of where the banking industry is headed.

And congratulations to Finn.ai, who overtook 10 FinTech pitches to claim the FinTech Cup, and Mindbridge, who took home the people’s choice, chosen by the audience via the Summit app. Both of these innovators are Artificial Intelligence (AI) platforms. In fact, AI was well represented at the Summit and is without a doubt a hot topic that is not going away anytime soon.

Kosta Perric of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation brought a social justice component to the Summit, with an inspiring message of equality for all humans and a call to executives to help drive social change in much needed areas of the world.

You wouldn’t expect anyone at the Payments Canada Summit to suggest that Canada is underperforming on the payments world stage, but rest assured that the innovations and talent profiled at the event were above debate. The payments industry in Canada is energetic and collaborative and all parties look forward to seeing how blockchain will revolutionize the industry.

The overarching message to executives was to lead with innovation and balance with regulation to keep customers safe. The industry has never been in a more exciting time and has not moved this rapidly since the dawn of the internet.  We look forward to seeing what the innovations of tomorrow will bring to the field.

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