Timothy Lane: Payments innovation beyond the pandemic

Remarks (delivered virtually) by Mr Timothy Lane, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Canada, at the Institute for Data Valorisation, Montreal, Quebec, 10 February 2021.

The views expressed in this speech are those of the speaker and not the view of the BIS.

Central bank speech  | 
15 February 2021


Good morning, and thank you for hosting me today.

I'm sure many of you share my sentiments about these virtual events-that we would much rather be together in person, and yet we are grateful for the technology that allows us to gather online.

The need to switch to this digital platform is, of course, just one small example of the changes brought on by the global pandemic. COVID-19 has claimed the lives of far too many-in Canada, we have lost more than 20,000 people. The virus has had a devastating impact on households and businesses across the country. Almost overnight, the Canadian economy suffered its worst setback since the Great Depression.

One major impact of the pandemic is certainly familiar to all of us by now: the digitalization of our personal and professional lives has accelerated.

In my remarks today, I'll focus on how these developments have affected the world of payments. I'm referring to changes in the way Canadian consumers and businesses pay for goods, services and financial assets. I'll begin by talking briefly about the economic consequences of the pandemic. Then I'll go on to discuss the implications for three main aspects of payments.

The first is the concept of a central bank digital currency-a "digital loonie," as it were. For several years, the Bank of Canada has been analyzing which circumstances might lead Canada to decide to issue a digital currency. The pandemic may bring us to a decision point sooner than we had anticipated.