Canada’s RTR payments system won’t be ready to launch until at least 2026

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Canada has been waiting for the launch of the new Real-Time Rail (RTR) payments system for a while now, but it appears that the arrival of the new solution is now facing another delay. While new tech partners — CGI and IBM — are joining the process, the launch still won’t happen at least until 2026, and it might be delayed even further.

According to Payments Canada, the RTR program — part of a multi-year, multi-system payments modernization initiative — has resumed its “renewed momentum” after the completion of a second review.

What is RTR payments system about?

The idea behind RTR is to allow Canadian users to initiate payments and receive irrevocable funds in a matter of seconds and at any time of day or night. The system would process payments almost instantly on any day of the week and year. It would not be affected by holidays, weekends, or similar issues that tend to block the payments conducted by regular banks.

The system will also tap the ISO 20022 messaging standard, thus supporting payment information traveling with every transaction. Furthermore, the exchange component, which was provided by Interac, was completed in June last year. As such, it will allow the exchange of payment messages in real-time.

And yet, the second piece of the project seems to be dragging out, as it is not yet finished. This is a part responsible for building the real-time clearing and settlement component, and according to new reports, it will continue throughout 2024.

After that, it is expected to go through an extensive testing phase in 2025, and then finally see industry testing in 2026. So far, Payments Canada has not offered a launch date, although its interim co-CEO, Jude Pinto, stated: “We know the ecosystem is anticipating the launch of the RTR, and we will have further details to share in the coming months.”

New partners join the development but the launch date was still pushed

Payments Canada had other major entities in the payments industry also join the project. This included Mastercard-owned Vocalink, which was contracted to provide a clearing and settlement infrastructure, as well as TCS, which was onboarded as integration lead.

However, Payments Canada did not mention either of these two companies in its recent update. Instead, it welcomed IBM Canada and CGI as new partners, alongside Interac. Furthermore, Payments Canada’s spokesperson refused to comment when asked whether Vocalink and TCS are still involved with the development.

Meanwhile, Pinto stressed: “Our collective focus is on building a sustainable real-time payment system that will support long-term payment innovation and the continued advancement of our economy, Canada’s international economic competitiveness and provide value and benefit to Canadian consumers and businesses”

As mentioned earlier, RTR has seen a series of delays over the years. Initially, the launch had been mooted for 2019, only for it to be pushed to mid-2023. But, early last year, Payments Canada reached out to a third party, hiring it to review delivery assurance.

The review was completed in Q1, and it recommended more testing and additional investments, to ensure that ongoing operations post-launch. Now, Payments Canada conducted a second review, which led to the new update, and the launch date once again got pushed.


Ali is a professional journalist with experience in Web3 journalism and marketing. Ali holds a Master's degree in Finance and enjoys writing about cryptocurrencies and fintech. Ali’s work has been published on a number of leading cryptocurrency publications including, CryptoSlate,,, Business2Community, BeinCrypto, and more.