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How e-transfer is changing our habits and the way we pay for things

Updated: Jul 29, 2023

As technology advances and we move towards a cashless society, it's easy to forget that there was a time when cash was the only way to pay for things. For those of us who remember those days, it's hard not to feel a sense of nostalgia for the simplicity of carrying around money in our pockets. For those who don't, it can be difficult to imagine a world without online banking and using your debit card or credit card to pay for stuff.

When I was a kid I used to run errands for my mom and then spend the spare change at the arcades, much to my mother's protest. I can also recall carrying around small bills and coins in my pocket, calculating the exact amount I needed to pay for public transport, snacks, payphones and other old-timey stuff. It was a simpler time.

This was before smartphones, that technological marble that let us have access to all of humanity’s knowledge, and, of course, cat videos. Smartphones have revolutionized the way we communicate, work, entertain ourselves, and consume information.

But perhaps the most significant impact smartphones have had is on the way we shop, bank, and manage our finances. They've made it possible to pay for goods and services with just a few taps on the screen, eliminating the need for cash or having to use your credit card. And this creates a lot of new situations.

The name of the game is Convenience.

Back at home, some of us were so used to the idea of always having cash with us to pay for everything, it was a natural thing, just like breathing. That changed the day we arrived here, in Canada. In some countries, cash is king, it’s part of their identity and culture, but over here, while Canadians still use it to pay for small things, like coffees and pastries, in this age of digital banking, it’s not the preferred method of payment anymore. According to the Bank of Canada, people have moved on to credit and debit cards. This creates new, interesting situations.

Imagine that it’s one of your classmates' birthdays. Some of the more thoughtful people in the class decided to buy a cake for this person and everyone else decided that the right thing to do is to split the cost among everyone.

Here’s where interac e-transfer comes into play, making those small transactions really easy and convenient to do. And that’s what all of this is about, convenience. You don’t have to lose valuable time introducing your friends' bank information in order to transfer them the money, you can just use their cellphone, or even their email. And the best thing about it: no fees at all.

“I love e-transfer, I love that we don’t have to add all the detailed information. You can just send the money with a phone number or email, so it’s very convenient to me.” Says Ash, from India, who's been here since 2016. “I can send it [the money] to literally everyone. And it’s a safety concern if you give your account number, so it’s easier to just give your email instead.”

In 2020, e-transfer was used to transfer over $221 Billion

Electronic transfer, commonly known as e-transfer, is a widely used digital payment solution that enables people to transfer money from their bank account to someone else's account using their email address or mobile number. The receiver gets a notification via email or SMS and can deposit the funds into their bank account. E-transfer is a secure and hassle-free payment method that eliminates the need for cash or cheques when you have to transfer money.

At first, the service was exclusively accessible to clients of select banks, but its ease of use, speed, and security made it rapidly popular. In 2012, Interac EMT (email payment method) transactions surpassed the number of cheques written in Canada, signifying a substantial change in payment behavior.

Interac Association introduced a new feature in 2014 called Interac e-transfer, which expanded the capabilities of the email money transfer service. With e-transfer, individuals could now send and receive money using their mobile phone number alongside their email address. The service also allowed users to add a security question and answer to ensure that only the intended recipient could access the funds.

Today, e-transfer has become a prevalent payment method in Canada and is available at most major financial institutions. In 2020, the service processed over 697 million transactions worth more than $221 billion. E-transfer has transformed the way people make payments, making it faster, easier, and more secure than ever before

“For me, I found that it is easier to transfer my money from my Canadian bank account when I’m buying groceries or going out with my friends and we want to split the check.” Says Paulina, an international student from México, who finds this technology very useful for bill payments. There are, however, limits to this technology. "I think maybe, the only way to improve it is in terms of security, sometimes I don’t feel like it’s 100% secure, maybe I just made a mistake and sent it to the wrong number. Having the opportunity to revise the transaction would be good, just having that option of canceling it.“

Modern solutions for modern times.

In a city like Vancouver, with so much diversity, you could find yourself meeting new people almost every day. You’re living your best life and you don’t have time to go collecting everyone’s bank information. E-transfer makes sure that you can handle these small transactions with zero-to-no hassle while you can focus on the things that matter the most to you.

Let us know what you think! How does interac e-transfer impact your life? Do you disagree with anything in this article? Join our Slack channel and fight me about it. 😜

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