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Canadian Payments Association

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Title: Canadian Payments Association  
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Canadian Payments Association

The Canadian Payments Association (CPA) is the organisation that operates a not-for-profit organization that:

  • operates and maintains national systems for the clearing and settlement of payments and other arrangements for the making or exchange of payments;
  • facilitates the interaction of the CPA’s systems with others involved in the exchange, clearing and settlement of payments; and
  • facilitates the development of new payment methods and technologies.[1]

Clearing and settlement systems

Clearing and settlement systems are essential to the smooth functioning of the economy. These systems allow financial institutions to calculate how much is owed to each other as a result of their customer's transactions and to transfer those funds to settle those balances.

The CPA operates three main clearing and settlement systems:

  1. The Large Value Transfer System (LVTS) is Canada's primary system for clearing and settling large value, time critical Canadian dollar transactions. It provides participants and their customers with the certainty that, once a payment has passed the system's risk-control tests, the transactions are final and will settle on the books of the Bank of Canada the same day.[2]
  2. The Automated Clearing Settlement System (ACSS) is a system through which Canadian dollar cheques and electronic payment items, such as direct deposits, ATM withdrawals, point of sale transactions, online payments and pre-authorized debit and bill payments are cleared and settled. The system tracks the exchange of payment items and the resulting balances due to and from direct participants.
  3. The CPA also operates the U.S. Dollar Bulk Exchange (USBE), a parallel system to the ACSS used for payment items in US dollars in Canada.


The CPA's ACSS and LVTS systems cleared and settled on average over $179.4 billion every business day in 2011. On average, 24.9 million payments cleared each day through CPA systems, representing over 6.3 billion payments over the year in 2011.[3]

History and governance

The CPA was established in 1980 by an Act of Parliament, which was amended and renamed the Canadian Payments Act (CP Act) in 2001. The Association has 135 members including the Bank of Canada, chartered banks, trust and loan companies, credit union centrals, federations of caisses populaires and other financial institutions.[4] The Minister of Finance has oversight responsibilities for the CPA. The Governor of the Bank of Canada has oversight responsibility for the LVTS under the Payment Clearing and Settlement Act. The Minister of Finance makes three appointments to the Board of Directors and the Bank of Canada appoints the chair, while members elect the remaining 12 directors.

A 20-person Stakeholder Advisory Council (SAC) provides advice and input to represent the diverse interests of users of the payments system. The SAC was established by the Canadian Payments Association in 1996 on a voluntary basis and was formalized in the Canadian Payments Act in 2001. The SAC provides advice to the CPA Board of Directors on payment, clearing, and settlement matters, and contributes input on proposed initiatives, including by-laws, policy statements, and rules that affect third parties. It also identifies issues that might concern payment system users and third-party service providers, and suggests how they could be addressed.[5] The CPA is administered by a full-time staff of approximately 80 and is headquartered in Ottawa.


The Canadian Payments Act also provides that the CPA must “promote the efficiency, safety and soundness of its clearing and settlement systems and take into account the interests of users”. Consumers, corporations, merchants, governments and payment service providers represent significant groups of system users, and as such, their interests are taken into account by the CPA in pursuing its objectives. Uniquely positioned as a consensus broker within the payments industry, the CPA ensures that significant rule changes follow an established public consultation process to seek input from key user groups. As an example of this consultation, in 2010 the CPA facilitated industry-wide innovation with frameworks for contactless debit payments. In 2012, the Association held consultations on ISO 20022


In March 2010, the CPA released its long-term Payments Strategy: Vision 2020, a roadmap for personal, corporate and wholesale payments which ensures that the systems for payments, clearing and settlement continue to evolve to meet the needs of Canadians until the year 2020, and beyond. Vision 2020 focuses on five pillars:

  • Promotion of electronic payments;
  • Driving efficiencies in payments;
  • Modernizing the CPA legal framework;
  • Enhancing the robustness of CPA Exchange, Clearing and Settlement IT Systems; and
  • Enhancing services that promote knowledge and information sharing to better meet the needs of CPA clearing and settlement system participants and users.

As part CPA’s Payments Strategy,the Association launched its Payments Strategy Refresh project earlier in 2012 to gauge the strategy against the current domestic and global environment, assess the relevancy of its initiatives and identify any strategic gaps.[6] A roadmap will be developed for the next three to five years, identifying and prioritizing all Vision 2020 initiatives.

Arising from these objectives, in 2011 the CPA:[7]

  • achieved a stellar operational record for all three payments systems, exceeding availability target rates;
  • was recognized as a thought leader on payments in Canada by actively and valuably contributing to the Task Force for the Payments System Review and by sharing knowledge and expertise through CPA appearances at Parliamentary committees;
  • made changes to the CPA committee structure and nomination process for CPA directors, thereby enhancing corporate governance best practices;
  • agreed to adopt ISO 20022 as the future direction for standards in Canada for payments processed using CPA systems to increase international interoperability and payments efficiency; and
  • rolled out the second phase of the CPA image rule project, establishing an enabling framework for the creation and use of Return Replacement Documents, providing new options to leverage image technology and enhance efficiencies in the clearing system.

Biennial conference: Payments Panorama

The CPA holds Canada's largest payments conference on a biennial basis.


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ CPA Annual Review 2011
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^

External links

  • Official website
  • Canada
  • CPA documents
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