Anurag Kar is the Director for Push Payments with Interac Corp. He is responsible for money movement products such as Interac e-Transfer, Batch Payables & Receivables and International Remittances. His focus is on the day-to-day management activities for the products and the execution of the platform strategy through new product development. Anurag has more than 10 years of experience in the payments industry, with a speciality in international money movement. Prior to joining the organization, Anurag worked in Retail banking, within the payments space. He has a passion for bringing solutions to market that simplifies the day to day payment interactions for individuals
As Director for Push Payments at Interac, what are your key responsibilities?
My key responsibilities include managing the Interac e-Transfer platform and the multiple product lines on the platform: Interac e-Transfer, our batch processing product Bulk Disbursements, International Remittances, and the ability to request for funds through multiple different interfaces… We oversee the strategy, the design ideation process, development, implementation and go to market.
Since 2003, Interac e-Transfer has revolutionized the way Canadians send money to one another. It’s fast, it’s efficient, and there’s nothing else like it in Canada’s payments landscape. And today, it’s more popular than ever; total Interace-Transfer volumes increased to 371.4 million transactions in 2018, accounting for 54 per cent year-over-year growth. Transaction value also grew to $132.8 billion, and Canadians used the service over one million times per day
What strategies do you use when it comes to developing new products that could benefit the transfer of funds process?
Strategy is something that is always evolving, and we try to stay dynamic to service the needs of our customers and clients. We’re constantly evaluating the market and deciding on what the next steps are.
We consider the strategy and approach based on three prongs:
- Where does the company want to go – what are the corporate priorities, our short- and long-term goals?
- What do we have in terms of product lines and where do we want to go moving forward, and
- We look at the market as well and evaluate it to understand the needs of our customers.
You have over 10 years of experience in the payments industry. What do you believe is the biggest challenge that people face when it comes to payments and moving funds?
Payments is not something people really worry about or think about. Businesses often don’t know what options are available to them and which possibilities can help alleviate any business pain points they may have. So, it’s always about helping people understand the value proposition of the offering and how it can help them and helps drive their business goals.
What is the number one benefit of Interac e-Transfer for small business owners? How would this help them grow their business?
It’s a widely available and widely used product with nearly 260 financial institutions making it available to their retail banking customers but also to their business banking customers. Interac is synonymous in Canada with sending and receiving money from your own bank account. Interac e-Transfer is a very scaled and mature product offering that allows you to send or receive money in near real time to anyone in the country using just a mobile number or email address. We do understand that from a SME perspective; however, the product may have certain limitations and may not meet all the business’ requirements. For an average small business, Interac e-Transfer is often the best solution when dealing with lower value transactions to help get funds instantly.
What is the most common challenge that entrepreneurs face when it comes to their business payments?
A lot of the feedback that we get through our market research and work that we do with financial institutions shows us that businesses are focused on their day-to-day business dealings and the challenges of getting their business up and running. A payment is often not their top priority to solve for. Often entrepreneurs don’t have all the information available to them to make an informed decision. For example, they may not know that they can use certain tools in a different way, to transact differently, or send or receive money differently. At the end of the day, it’s about entrepreneurs understanding the choices they have based on their needs.
What has been the latest biggest innovation in the payments industry?
Innovation in the payments industry is constantly evolving. I would say, the biggest innovation was in the early 80’s when there was a drive to move towards digital payments. Customers were able to use the internet (once that was available), or access their own money with a debit card or use their debit card instead of cash when making purchases. So, when the thought of digitizing payments occurred, that was probably the biggest change. Recently, it’s quite difficult to say what has been the biggest innovation. The pace of innovation is accelerating, and I think we’ll continue to see changes with new alternative ideas being brought to market all the time.
What is the best payment option for SME owners that is secure, easy and quick?
It would be dependent upon the SME’s needs, use cases and business practices. Speed, security, and convenience are levers in a payment solution that could determine which is the best solution. As an example, if a business wants to use a payment option to send out payroll that occurs once a week at the same time, where reliability and security is priority, the SME can use many solutions including Interac e-Transfer. But if the payment needs differ or become more complicated, they may need to re-evaluate. Any SME would need to evaluate the specific needs of their business, their employees or customers and then decide on the best option for them.
Technology is always improving our lifestyle and creating new possibilities. How do you manage to stay current with the constant new discoveries in the tech industry to help you in the development of payment solutions?
As we always keep a pulse on the market in the different spaces we operate within, we look at who the different customers are along the value chain and what’s happening with them on the market and the most recent technology advancements. Once we start looking at the value chain and tech advancements, we make a determination of how that relates to our platform and how we can deploy technology changes to address our customers’ needs.
What are the top three mistakes that SME owners make when it comes to their payment interactions and how can Interac help them?
I don’t think there are any mistakes. I think that SME owners focus on their day-to-day business needs and they’re fully plugged into their business. They rely on their payment interactions to be reliable and secure so it’s more about opportunity and timing to understand the space and explore solutions that are available to them.
There aren’t specific mistakes that I could point out. I could suggest that when the payment needs of a small business become more complex, they may want to have the conversation with their Financial Institution or lookout for a blog or whitepaper from a payments company like Interac to trigger some thought in order to see if they can incorporate something new into their business.
Where do you see the digital money movement heading? What does the future of Interac look like?
In the next 2-5 years, we think that Interac and the Interace – Transfer platform is going to expand further in the money movement space to allow for more transactional opportunities for business customers. It started as a P2P product and while we see business customers on the platform, we can continue to allow for technology, functionality, and customer experience changes tenable certain capabilities for business customers.
When I say business customers, I mean businesses of all sizes – small, medium and large corporate enterprises. Our focus is to continue to find more opportunities to help alleviate the pain of moving funds. And we will continue with innovation and enhancements in that space.
On a final note, did you always know that you wanted to go into this line of business?
I did not actually. I’ve been in the payments industry my entire career, but I would say that I was not familiar with the space when I was doing my undergraduate degree. I had a tendency to try to understand from a micro economic perspective how to solve problems and the payments industry allowed me the opportunity to offer solutions. It’s something I really took a liking to and I’ve been in this industry ever since.
Interac Corp. operates an economical, world-class debit payments system with broad-based acceptance, reliability, security and efficiency. The organization is one of Canada’s leading payments brands and is chosen an average of 16 million times daily to pay and exchange money. For more than 30 years, Interac Corp. through its predecessors, Interac Association and Acxsys Corporation, have facilitated secure financial transactions through the development of innovative and convenient debit and money transfer solutions. A leader in the prevention and detection of fraud, the organization has one of the lowest rates of fraud globally. Interac Corp. has a diverse group of shareholders that includes banks, credit unions, caisses populaires, payment processors and merchants.
Interac Corp. is constantly innovating and evolving to ensure that connected consumers can continue to choose Interac products now and well into the future, on multiple platforms and devices. The services offered by Interac Corp. include: