How Canada Sets The Foundation For Mobile Payments Success

Canada has been considered one of the “first movers” of mobile payments – partly because the nation is often quick to adopt new technologies. Linda Mantia, Executive Vice President, Digital, Payments & Cards at RBC, says the key to making that a more widespread trend is to deliver a solution that meets the needs of consumers, merchant and the P2P space – and speeds up provisioning.

Canada has been considered one of the “first movers” of mobile payments – partly because the nation is often quick to adopt new technologies. And the key to making that a more widespread trend, says RBC, is about delivering a solution that meets the needs of consumers, merchants and the P2P space – and speeds up provisioning. In a recent interview, Linda Mantia, Executive Vice President, Digital, Payments & Cards at RBC, sat down with PYMNTS to discuss how its cloud solution sets out to give mobile payments a huge leg up and to do so safely and flexibly – and in a way that doesn’t compete with HCE technology.


Canadians are generally early adopters of technology and it is no different with mobile payments. In fact, Canada has been considered the “first mover” in mobile payments. In your opinion, what is driving mobile payments adoption in Canada, and what makes the country a unique market?

New technologies are changing the way consumers go about their day-to-day activities — from the way they bank to the way they shop and now the way they pay. Whether it’s in person, online or through a user’s mobile device, RBC is committed to providing our consumer and merchant clients with the most innovative, convenient and secure solutions to pay how they want, when they want.

While adoption is low right now, mobile commerce is the future. Smartphones are always on us. We check we have them before we check what we have in our wallets. Our clients are no longer turning to their devices just for text, email, and voice – they’re turning to it for everything. We believe the key element to winning in the market and igniting mobile payments is choice.

True innovation is about making sure we have the very best solution to meet the needs of the complete ecosystem – that includes consumers, merchants, and business to business. We first started experimenting in 2009 writing payment credentials to embedded secure elements and then to carrier SIM cards. We created RBC Secure Cloud so our clients could provision very quickly, instantly have access to all of their payment cards, and never have to provision anything again. Further, our patented and patent pending RBC Secure Cloud solution leveraged layered and dynamic tokenization to take security to the next level.


As Canada leads in the evolution of the mobile payments ecosystem, it falls behind in the security aspect of it. What security challenges are you facing today and how are these being addressed?

Consumers take security very seriously, especially when it comes to trusting a financial institution with their finances. We take the privacy and security of clients very seriously and we think it’s one of the reasons people turn to a bank for their payment solution. We have always been committed to providing our customers with choice – the ability to choose how, when and where they want to bank with us without compromising the value of services and advice we provide or security. This is not a new concept to us and it is why we joined the Canadian banking industry in publishing a Payments Security White Paper highlighting the need to maintain the highest level of payment security, while supporting innovation, and allowing consumers to use any mobile wallet on any mobile device they choose.

The Payments Security White Paper reviews topics such as the importance of customer identification and verification methods, and management of dynamic data to prevent account takeover and transaction level fraud in this dynamic environment. It raises some of the potential security concerns and questions that could arise in an open marketplace and lists possible ways to address them.

Recent developments with open-source software have given NFC new life, essentially allowing financial institutions to bypass the secure element on smartphones. That “toll gate” spurred innovation that led to HCE; it removes one of the biggest challenges, which was the stranglehold in the U.S.

Building on leading in the payments space and another example of how we are continentally improving security, on June 2, we announced a new app for Google’s new Android M operating system, providing clients with increased security and sign in acceleration with the RBC Wallet. RBC introduced and demonstrated this new feature at the Google I/O, an annual developer conference. RBC is the first and only financial institution in Canada that was invited to launch a new mobile solution on Google’s new Android M operating system as a participant in Android’s early access programs.


What role does HCE play in a cloud environment? Will HCE replace the RBC Secure Cloud?

No. The RBC HCE Wallet is powered by RBC Secure Cloud, meaning all sensitive customer data is stored securely with RBC in the cloud, not on the phone. That makes for a safer, faster, more flexible solution. Payments made with the RBC Wallet are protected by the RBC Online Banking Security Guarantee.

HCE allows mobile payments to be less reliant on a specific type of mobile phone, and eliminates the need to ask carriers for permission to access the handset. It also allows clients to use any near field communication (NFC) enabled Android phone to pay at the point of sale with the RBC Mobile app with every mobile carrier anywhere in the world. The user waves to pay with their smartphone, permitting their financial institution (RBC) to host payment accounts in a secure, virtual cloud.


What is fueling mobile payment innovation in Canada and what role does RBC play?

Canada is a global leader in payments. RBC was in a position to establish early leadership with RBC Secure Cloud in an area that would be of vital importance to the current generation of consumers and fundamental to the next generation. We continue to invest to stay at the forefront of emerging payments and mobile-based technologies.

For example, in Canada, RBC has been leading the charge in mobile with several firsts over the past year and a half:

  • Participated in the country’s first mobile debit transaction with Interac and McDonald’s.
  • Chose to go our own way with RBC Secure Cloud, patent-pending technology that powers our mobile solution, rather than accepting the existing market solution.
  • Partnered with Facebook to launch the first social person-to-person (P2P) money transfer capability in North America.
  • Introduced RBC Wallet, serving as the first financial institution in Canada to introduce a mobile wallet that provides the customer with the choice of paying with either debit or credit.
  • Acted as the first North American financial institution to develop an HCE payment solution, allowing Canadians to pay with most Android mobile phones with less reliance on the type of mobile phone, SIM card and carrier they use and provide clients with more choice in how they pay.

As the telecommunications, computing and consumer handset markets revolutionized with the emergence of LTE, cloud computing and the modern smartphone, we saw the opportunity for a mobile payments revolution. We created our solution to make mobile payments easy to use, give our clients choice in how they pay, and improve the overall security of commerce.


Finally, what are you hearing from both your consumers and merchant clients?

The benefits of HCE for merchants vary between countries. But specifically, in Canada and where all merchants have EMV-enabled point-of-sale systems, accepting HCE-based transactions requires no changes to the existing acceptance infrastructure.

On the acceptance side, HCE is a standard EMV chip transaction. Any terminal that currently accepts contactless cards can accept this functionality. Nothing changes for retailers apart from potentially reducing the cost of cash handling.

We are working closely with merchants given the significance of all this change. We understand they are already faced with many issues such as ensuring privacy, reducing fraud, and they are now faced with assessing the mobile commerce impact to their business. It’s a complex world right now. There are so many moving parts and we understand that there is a lot of uncertainty. That’s why it is important to us during this time of flux, to take a balanced approach to the needs of all stakeholders in the system. We are in this together.


Linda Mantia, Executive Vice President, Digital, Payments and Cards. RBC

Linda is the Executive Vice President of Digital, Payments and Cards for RBC. She has global responsibility for the strategic direction of RBC’s Personal and Business Credit Cards, Rewards and Partnership Programs, Merchant Strategies/ Moneris, online and mobile banking, as well as the enterprise Retail Payments Strategy and Innovation.

Linda joined RBC in 2003, as the SVP of the Innovation & Process Design teams. She then moved to London, England, as Chief Operating Officer of Global Private Banking. Most recently, Linda was Head of Enterprise Services and Chief Procurement Officer, accountable globally for Acquisition Integration, Procurement, Corporate Real Estate, Lean Six Sigma, Global Consulting, Business Process Outsourcing and Enterprise Program Management Office.

Linda is a member of the Personal and Commercial Banking Operating Committee and a member of the board of directors for Moneris Solutions, a leading North American payment processor. For two consecutive years, Linda was named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women by the Women’s Network: in 2013 she was recognized in the Corporate Executives category and in 2014, she was recognized in the Trailblazers & Trendsetters category. She was also named one of the Most Influential Women in Payments for 2014 by PaymentsSource and awarded the 2014 Women in Payments Award for Leadership by Women in Payments.

Prior to joining RBC, Linda was an Associate Principal for McKinsey & Company based in Canada, the U.S. and Australia, and prior to that Linda was a partner at Davies, Ward & Beck specializing in corporate and securities law.

In the community, Linda is co-chairwoman of Greening Greater Toronto and is actively involved in leading various aspects related to Women Against Multiple Sclerosis (WAMS).