Reflections on the Canadian payments systems: from manual clearing to electronic funds transfers
University of British Columbia
Master of Laws - LLM
The Canadian payments system encompasses not only those traditional systems which facilitate the processing of paper payment instructions through the Automated Clearing and Settlement System (ACSS) and or the Bank of Canada but those electronic funds transfer (EFT) systems which are capable of processing payment instructions in purely electronic form. Access to the payments system is a key element in the retail and financial services sectors' bid to remain competitive on both national and global scales. Moreover, a complete system of electronic payments will eventually reduce the need for credit cards and, to the extent that it increases the use of deposits for payment purposes, it will reduce the need for currency and cheques as well. In other words, a truly national electronic funds transfer system will act not only as a "payments system" or financial communications system that will carry payment instructions but a "payment mechanism" which will replace payment for goods and services by cash or cheques. This paper provides an overview of the national payments systems and identifies some of the problems which have arisen as a result of the changes to the largely paper based systems brought about by the electronic banking age. It identifies the technological advances made in the payments area, the traditional right or obligation arising as a result of the bank-customer relationship, if any, which has been effected by the technological advance, it briefly examines how the technological advance impacts on this right or obligation; and it raises questions about whether the traditional right or obligation needs to be protected, modified or eliminated and, if so, in what matter. In the end, it is hoped that this paper will serve as a wake up call to consumers and academics about the importance of and the need for greater access to information about the national payments system.
Law, Peter A. Allard School of