A Closer Look at the Canadian Payments Industry

Explore what makes the Canadian payment processing industry so exciting and unique with a look at what makes it tick and the players who make it happen.

Find out what makes Pivotal Payments an industry leader:

Payment Processing in Canada

Payment processing in Canada is an interesting industry which features loads of emerging technologies as well as useful data about consumer trends. There are six major payment networks utilizing either an ISO or a direct to acquirer methodology. For those who are curious about getting set up with payment processing in Canada, it is in your best interest to learn how these systems work and how they are governed.

Direct Acquirer Systems

A direct from acquirer payment processing system is really the one-stop-shop of payment processing in Canada. These contracts typically allow you to buy or lease your payment processing technology, including card readers and point of sale terminals, from the same entity that is also responsible for processing the money that flows through them. This system is streamlined and concise so you can easily see all of your payments and fees in one place. However, smaller companies sometimes struggle to get in the door with merchant acquirers because the acquirer is most focused on servicing their major accounts.


Independent Sales Organizations, or ISOs, really come into play by bringing the services of the acquirers down to a more local level. An acquirer may have a team of ISOs and agents working to sell their technology and accounts to new merchants. In this way, more small and mid-sized businesses are able to enjoy the benefits of a merchant account but can have a local agent to interface with. The main difference here is that the ISO may be selling or leasing their own technology, but the acquirer upstream is still the one doing the payment processing.

This means that you may have to sign separate contracts for the two services, and you could receive two separate bills each month based the cost of each one individually. This can be harder to reconcile if you are unfamiliar with the structure of payment processing in Canada. Nevertheless, ISOs have been around for many years, and we continue to see strong growth as they bring their systems to underserved markets where the big banks aren't calling. 

Other Players

Canada is also seeing the introduction of digital payment facilitators. These app-based programs are serving as a bridge between small-time businesses and their banking accounts in lieu of traditional merchant accounts. It is yet to be seen how these companies will fare in the long run, but some ISOs are already starting to adjust to this new source of competition. 

Overall, payment processing in Canada is a strong and stable industry that is seeing a resurgence of new energy and ideas. From the acquiring banks down to the PayFacs, there is more innovation and focus on security than ever before. None of these tips works like magic. Entrepreneurs, whether running online businesses or brick and mortar shops, work hard to succeed. But approaching the process intelligently can help generate profits more quickly, and in some cases, help businesses become valuable very quickly.

For more information about Pivotal Partner's merchant account services for ISO's and Independent Sales Agents, click here.

Find out what makes Pivotal Payments an industry leader: