Top Takeaways from the 2019 CPPO Prepaid Symposium

By Jennifer Tramontana, executive director of the CPPO board of directors

On May 13, we wrapped up the 2019 CPPO Prepaid Symposium in Toronto. The annual event immediately preceded Payments Canada’s Summit and brought together more than twenty-five local and international thought leaders to an intimate gathering with 100 delegates specialized in prepaid.

This year’s theme, Driving paytech innovation, explored prepaid’s critical function as a core capability for paytech growth in Canada. Here are the top takeaways from the 2019 Symposium:

Consumer prepaid is becoming a suite of digital banking services. In his keynote presentation, Kelley Knutson, president of Netspend – the leading US provider of prepaid debit products, walked us through the evolution of prepaid beyond its traditional offering and into a suite of competitive digital banking services. In addition to highlighting key differences between the Canadian and U.S. prepaid markets, Kelley stressed the role of physical prepaid cards and virtual accounts in compartmentalization and pocketed spending and the new payment dynamics prepaid players must keep in mind, such as the new omnichannel reality and the rise of challenger banks. He also reminded us of the opportunities that new customer segments present in Canada across several prepaid verticals.

Prepaid solutions are and will continue to be a valuable part of Canada’s financial services ecosystem. Drawing on a new study commissioned by the CPPO and conducted by Deloitte, we also quantified the impact of the prepaid industry as a driver of innovation, economic development, and positive social change. The study revealed prepaid’s ability to provide a modular technology platform for a compelling experience for the end user and to function as a frictionless cheque replacement opportunity that can save businesses up to $6.5B a year in cheque processing. Prepaid also remains a financial inclusion enabler that provides low-cost, convenient and accessible payment options to Canada’s underserved consumers.

Times have changed and what was once innovative is now commonplace. Jim Marous, co-publisher of The Financial Brand and owner and publisher of the Digital Banking Report, emphasized the need for financial services to take modified risks to adapt to change. He warned against the danger of resting on laurels and urged attendees to embrace disruption in the financial industry by looking to other industries for inspiration around innovation and product delivery.

In addition, over the course of the day, we had the opportunity to hear from leading fintech innovators and industry players during seven panel sessions. Discussions revolved around prepaid as a capability of paytech innovation, driving customer demand in an overserved financial services market, using technology to level the playing field of SMBs in the face of large industry players and competing efficiently in loyalty programs. We also learned more about the promise and challenges of AI-based digital identity solutions, heard countering views about the promise of the real-time rail for the prepaid industry and got the latest developments from BRC’s innovation incubator.

The Symposium’s diverse group of speakers and attendees, together with the panel discussions, were a good reminder that the industry’s stakeholders are on the rise and so is competition. While this is indicative of solid growth and great potential for the industry, it also underlined the importance of giving the prepaid community the opportunity to cross-communicate and network to stay well-informed of fast-moving innovations, technology trends, and regulations. With its annual Prepaid Symposium and membership opportunities, the CPPO is committed to bringing awareness and education to Canadian consumers and businesses through a collaborative environment where prepaid can flourish.

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