The COVID-19 pandemic has had a momentous impact on consumer payments behaviour in Canada. Shopping patterns have changed dramatically. Almost two thirds of adult Canadian consumers said they were making less frequent shopping trips at the height of the pandemic than before, with half of those spending more on each shopping trip. More than half of adult Canadians were keen to avoid the use of cash because of the perceived health risks associated with cash handling, resulting in fewer trips to ATMs to make cash withdrawals. There has been a strong shift to contactless payments, which were already popular prior to the pandemic, but increased credit card limits for contactless transactions have provided more opportunities for contactless payment usage. In addition, online shopping accelerated rapidly during the peak months of the pandemic, causing a fundamental and permanent change in shopping behaviour.
These developments have created opportunities for payment and fintech companies to provide new, frictionless, and in some cases invisible, digital payment services to consumers, who have demonstrated their willingness to embrace new payment technologies over traditional payment methods.