Canadian credit unions launch P2P payments

Source: Central 1

Two credit unions are the first financial institutions in Canada to launch Interac e-Transfer, a payment system that allows users to securely send or receive money directly, and almost instantly, between financial institution accounts on their smartphones or computer.

With this new product enhancement, Central 1-which provides the e-mail and mobile platforms-in partnership with BC's Prospera Credit Union and Teachers Credit Union of Ontario, is leading the race for accessible and convenient mobile money transfers. The partnership is the first step in making person-to-person payments widely available across financial institutions.

"Canadians have traditionally been eager to adopt new technology and there are already 22 million wireless subscribers in Canada," says Oscar van der Meer, Chief Technology Officer for Central 1. "This is the logical evolution of mobile banking and as more retailers and financial institutions adopt mobile payments, the potential impact for consumers is virtually limitless."

Central 1 says 17 percent of credit union members have access to mobile web banking, 18 percent to e-mail money transfers and 45 percent to mobile SMS text banking. Nationwide, 70 percent of Canadians use a mobile phone and 34 per cent of those are smartphones, such as a BlackBerry or iPhone.

"Interac e-Transfer is a new way for people to exchange money quickly, easily and securely, whether they want to transfer a few dollars or a thousand dollars," says van der Meer. "This service will transform the way consumers exchange money."

Interac e-Transfer simplifies the direct transfer of funds. This feature was previously known as Interac E-mail Money Transfer and was limited to sending funds between bank accounts using e-mail. Transfer notifications can now be sent either from computer to smartphone or from smartphone to smartphone in real-time. In contrast, other transfer solutions may take several days to complete a transfer and involve a stored value account.

With Interac e-Transfer, recipients receive a secure link via e-mail or text message. Once they answer a security question, money is immediately transferred between financial institutions without sharing any personal or financial information. "Mobile money transfers represent the first stride towards having the smartphone replace the wallet," van der Meer notes.

Prospera and Teachers Credit Union participated in the design and testing of the Interac e-Transfer mobile extensions and were the first financial institutions to launch the new product.

"This new service allows us to make a meaningful difference in helping our members manage their money more efficiently," said Bruce Howell, President and Chief Executive Officer of Prospera.

"Interac e-Transfer will enhance the online and mobile banking experience for our members and is a significant advantage we can offer that distinguishes us from the competition," said Gary Lowes, President and Chief Executive Officer of Teachers Credit Union in Hamilton.

Central 1 expects that other clients that use their MemberDirect Services will soon add mobile person-to-person payments to the services they offer their customers. Currently, Central 1 provides MemberDirect Services to 99.9 percent of all B.C. credit unions and 70 percent of Ontario credit unions (representing 2.9 million members). In addition, Central 1 provides online banking and payment services to other financial institutions, public sector agencies, utilities, telecommunications and insurance companies.

Central 1's mobile banking services have evolved from text-based banking in early 2008 to mobile alerts and mobile web banking in 2009 and now to mobile person-to-person payments.

"We are extremely pleased to be expanding the functionality of Interac e-Transfer into the mobile space," said Mark O'Connell, President and CEO, Acxsys Corporation and Interac Association. "Central 1's decision to be the first to offer the mobile functionality of Interac e-Transfer speaks to the organization's commitment to offer innovative payment options to Central 1's members and their clients."

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