Stats on the Popularity of E-wallets in Canada

Digital wallets have become the new norm. Also called a mobile wallet or e-wallet, a digital wallet is an online service or software program that enables you to make electronic payments to a merchant. Digital wallets have removed the need to carry cash every time.

Digital wallets have started long before you think they did. Coca-Cola implemented the first digital wallet solution in 1997. The company installed some vending machines in Helsinki, Finland, that accepted payments via text messages.

Then, in December 1998, the popular electronic money transfer service we now know as PayPal launched, enabling users to buy and sell goods over the Internet. Since then, many digital wallets have emerged, with Alipay, Apple Pay, Venmo, and Cash App being the most prominent ones.

Digital wallets open up more opportunities for economic growth by allowing cross-border payments and secure and fast money transfers. It also promotes financial inclusion by allowing those who are unbanked or underbanked to access various financial services.

In this article, we’ll discuss the popularity of e-wallets in Canada, touching on everything from how digital wallets work and what e-wallet options are available in Canada to the pros and cons of e-wallets and their increasing adoption worldwide.

🔧 How a Digital Wallet Works

With e-wallets, you no longer have to carry your physical wallet anywhere. Digital wallets allow you to access financial services and products using your mobile device. They also enable you to store your payment information securely in a compact device.

You need a mobile device and wireless connections, such as Bluetooth, the Internet, and magnetic signals. You can then securely transfer payment data from your mobile device to a merchant’s point of sale, which connects through these wireless capabilities to read the payment data.

Here are the technologies used by digital wallets:

💳 Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST)
💳 Near-field communication (NFC)
💳 QR Codes
💳 Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST)
This convenient technology is available only to Samsung smartphone users. However, Samsung has already phased out this feature in 2021. This technology uses the exact mechanism of magnetic card readers. When you swipe your phone through a merchant’s point of sale, it reads your card. Your phone then generates an encrypted field, which the POS reads. This connectivity allows the transfer of payment information.
💳 Near-field communication (NFC)
Like its namesake, this technology requires two devices to be physically close to each other to connect—approximately within 4 centimetres or less. It enables two smartphones to connect and convey information through electromagnetic signals. The connection established through NFC is low-speed. This means it transfers data very slowly, making it unsuitable for transferring large files. However, it’s perfect for transferring payment data from one device to another.
💳 QR Codes
These are barcodes you scan with your phone’s camera or digital wallet app. You then confirm the details, and the contactless payment is complete. For instance, in the PayPal app, you can pay for something in a store by generating a QR code.

🔄 How to Transfer Money Using a Digital Wallet

Making payments through digital wallets is relatively easy. You can make payments either in-store or online. The guidelines vary depending on which app you’re using, but here are the general steps you can follow.

Here are the steps for making an in-store payment:

Conversely, here are the steps for online payments:

Depending on your needs, there are several e-wallets in Canada from which to choose. In this section, we’ll discuss the most popular digital wallets in Canada, their fees, pros and cons, and user ratings.

PayPal PayPal
Apple Pay Apple Pay
Google Pay Google Pay
Samsung Pay Samsung Pay
INTERAC e-Transfer INTERAC e-Transfer
Payz Payz
Paypal logo e.png
PayPal
PayPal is a widely recognised e-wallet in Canada. It simplifies managing your money online, especially for those who frequently conduct international transactions. PayPal allows you to hold and transfer funds in various currencies, eliminating the hassle of exchange rates. PayPal’s built-in protection programs benefit both buyers and sellers. These programs offer an extra layer of security for online transactions, giving you peace of mind when you shop or sell online.

🔃 Fees

There are no fees when purchasing online or in-store as long as no currency conversion is needed. However, a 5% fee is collected for international transactions.

➕ Pros

✅ Widely used worldwide
✅ Flexible payment transfer options
✅ No fees for sending money to friends and family

➖ Cons

❌ High fees on selected transactions
❌ Experienced a recent breach of user account data
❌ Slow processing time for bank transfers

Apple pay.png
Apple Pay
Individuals using iPhones, iPads, or Apple Watches can use Apple Pay, a widely adopted digital wallet for contactless payments in Canada. With broad acceptance nationwide, Apple Pay eliminates the need to carry cash or physical cards. This innovative system prioritises security with built-in features and a user-friendly interface. This is why it’s a trusted choice for Canadians on the go.

🔃 Fees

Apple Pay is free for both merchants and customers. However, card processing fees may still apply.

➕ Pros

✅ Quick and easy way to make payments
✅ More secure than physical cards, even when your phone is stolen
✅ Your information is kept private

➖ Cons

❌ Not accepted by some retailers
❌ Not compatible with some banks
❌ Only available on certain Apple devices

Google Pay.png
Google Pay
Google Pay, a digital wallet by Google, is a secure and convenient service that lets you pay with your Android phone, tablet, or watch in stores, within apps, and online. Using a PIN, passcode, or fingerprint scan, you can make secure transactions and manage your finances all in one place. Google Pay allows you to send and receive money, split bills, earn rewards, and even see deals from your favourite merchants. As of 2024, it’s now available in 79 countries.

🔃 Fees

Google Pay is generally free when you send money to friends and family, make in-store and online purchases, and receive money.

➕ Pros

✅ Easier alternative for carrying around credit cards
✅ More secure than a physical credit card
✅ Compatible with so many Android devices

➖ Cons

❌ Not accepted by some businesses
❌ Not available in some regions

Samsung Pay.png
Samsung Pay
Samsung Pay stands out for its broad compatibility. Unlike some mobile wallets, it works with modern contactless payment terminals using NFC (Near Field Communication) and older terminals relying on magnetic swipes. This is thanks to MST (Magnetic Secure Transmission) technology, a clever feature that mimics the swipe of a physical card. This makes Samsung Pay a versatile option, particularly in regions where NFC hasn’t yet been widely adopted.

🔃 Fees

Samsung Pay is completely free to use. You also gain reward points when you use Samsung Pay, which you can redeem for products in one of Samsung Pay’s retail partners.

➕ Pros

✅ Gain reward points for transactions
✅ Easy to set up
✅ Works at all credit card POS in the US
✅ Option to manage your money

➖ Cons

❌ The interface design could be more user-friendly
❌ No option to send money to friends and contacts
❌ Can’t pay from a web browser

Payz Logo Yellow Black.png
INTERAC e-Transfer
Interac e-Transfer is a Canadian service offered by Interac Corporation that allows you to send money directly between bank accounts. Participating Canadian banks and credit unions all utilise this secure system. Forget checks or cash — e-Transfer provides a digital alternative for sending funds quickly and easily within Canada. While the notification is through email, the transfer utilises secure banking procedures, ensuring your money arrives safely.

🔃 Fees

Interac e-Transfer is a low-cost service that charges minimal fees.

➕ Pros

✅ Near instant transfers
✅ Minimal information needed for transfers
✅ Uses established banking procedures
✅ Available at most Canadian banks and credit unions

➖ Cons

❌ Limited transfer amounts
❌ Potential for scams
❌ Transfers are only available between Canadian bank accounts

interac .png
Payz
Launched in 2000, Payz caters specifically to online shoppers and gamblers. Whether paying at a physical store or making online purchases, it lets you conveniently send, receive, and spend funds. It even provides virtual cards for an extra layer of security during online transactions. Payz goes beyond basic features by offering tiered accounts, each with its benefits.

🔃 Fees

They vary depending on transaction type, currency conversion, and account level. Free account options have limited features.

➕ Pros

✅ Has app and web versions
✅ Offers virtual cards for added security
✅ Multiple account tiers with varying features and fees
✅ Ideal for online gambling

➖ Cons

❌ Complex fee structures
❌ Not as widely accepted as some payment methods
❌ Free accounts have limitations

Here are the user satisfaction ratings of various digital wallets:

Digital Wallet App Google Playstore Rating App Store Rating Capterra Rating
PayPal 4.3/5 4.8/5 4.7/5
Apple Pay N/A (Pre-installed on iOS) 4.8/5 4.7/5
Google Pay 4/5 4.7/5 4.6/5
Samsung Pay 4.3/5 4.5/5 4.5/5
INTERAC e-Transfer N/A (No app version) N/A (No app version) N/A (No review available)
Payz 3.8/5 2.1/5 N/A (No review available)

👉 How to Get a Digital Wallet

Here’s a breakdown of how to get started with digital wallets and enjoy the world of cashless payments.

quality preference  .png
Step 1
Choose a Digital Wallet Provider
Consider your needs at this stage. Do you want to make international payments, send money easily to friends and family, or make contactless payments using your phone? This will determine which digital wallet works best for you. Then, you must ensure that the wallet you choose works with your device (Android or iOS) and preferred bank.
quality preference  .png
Step 2
Download and Install the App
If you choose an e-wallet with an app, the next step is to download and install it. Simply visit the app store, whether it’s Google Play or App Store, and search your chosen digital wallet. Ensure you download the official app and read reviews while you’re at it.
quality preference  .png
Step 3
Set Up an Account
In this step, you must open the downloaded app and create your account. You’ll need to provide basic information, such as your name, email address, and contact number. Then, assign a secure password. You may also be required to provide proof of identification.
quality preference  .png
Step 4
Link Bank Accounts or Credit Cards
Most wallets allow you to link your bank account or credit card for seamless transactions. Follow the app’s instructions to add your financial information securely.

Now, let’s look at some specific examples.

How to Get PayPal How to Get PayPal
How to Get Apple Pay How to Get Apple Pay
How to Get Google Pay How to Get Google Pay
How to Get Samsung Pay How to Get Samsung Pay
How to Get Payz How to Get Payz
How to Get Interac e-Transfer How to Get Interac e-Transfer
Paypal logo e.png
How to Get PayPal
Download the app. Select your account type: personal or business. Then, set up your account. You input your email address, password, and other personal information here. Then, you need to provide a copy of your ID for verification. You’ll also need to link your credit or debit card and verify your email address.
Apple pay.png
How to Get Apple Pay
Apple Pay is pre-installed on iPhones. To set it up, just add your prepaid, debit, or credit card information to the Wallet app.
Google Pay.png
How to Get Google Pay
Download the Google Pay app and set up an account. Link your bank account or debit card for contactless payments and in-app purchases on Android devices.
Samsung Pay.png
How to Get Samsung Pay
It’s usually pre-installed on compatible devices. Open the app, set up a PIN, and link your cards. Then, if you wish to connect your watch, do so using the Galaxy Wearable app. Find Samsung Pay and update it. If adding cards, set a PIN on your watch through the Galaxy Wearable app. Then, press the back button on your watch to use Samsung Pay. Add cards later if needed.
Payz Logo Yellow Black.png
How to Get Payz
Download the Payz app and create an account. Choose your preferred account tier and link your funding source (bank account, debit card, etc.)
interac .png
How to Get Interac e-Transfer
You cannot download an app for Interac e-Transfer. It’s a service offered by your Canadian bank and accessible through online banking.

📲 How to Use a Digital Wallet

Digital wallets are straightforward and user-friendly. To start, you must open the app, which may require entering a password, PIN, or biometric login. The next steps would then depend on which digital wallet you’re using and where you want to make the payment, whether it’s online or in-store.

Online vs. In-store Payments

The steps vary depending on whether you’re paying online or in-store. Let’s start with the steps for online payments.

Now, let’s outline the steps for making payments in-store.

💳 How to Make Payments Using Major E-Wallets in Canada

To ensure a seamless and hassle-free transaction, we’ll outline the steps to making payments using the major players in the digital wallet space in Canada.

How to Use PayPal How to Use PayPal
How to Use Apple Pay How to Use Apple Pay
How to Use Google Pay How to Use Google Pay
How to Use Samsung Pay How to Use Samsung Pay
How to Use Payz How to Get Payz
How to Use Interac e-Transfer
Paypal logo e.png
How to Use PayPal
Select PayPal as your preferred payment method upon checkout when making online payments. To use PayPal in stores, you must change your payment preferences in the app to ‘In-store purchases’ or ‘In-person & QR code purchases’.
Apple pay.png
How to Use Apple Pay
You can use either your iPhone or Apple Watch to pay. For iPhones with Face ID, simply double-click the side button; for those with Touch ID, double-click the Home button. For Apple Watches, double-click the side button. Then, hold the top of your device near the contactless terminal until you see a payment confirmation or hear a beep.
Google Pay.png
How to Use Google Pay
You need to turn on NFC to make contactless payments via Google Pay. To pay in-store, simply unlock your phone and hold the back of it to the payment reader. There’s no need to open the Google Pay app.
Samsung Pay.png
How to Use Samsung Pay
To make in-store payments via Samsung Pay, just open the app on your phone. Select ‘Pay,’ and choose your preferred card. Tap ‘Pay’ again and enter the required security info. Then, hold the back of your smartphone to the payment reader. To use your Galaxy watch to pay, press and hold the Back button on your watch. Then, choose your preferred card. Lastly, place the watch near the payment terminal, preferably within one inch or less.
Payz Logo Yellow Black.png
How to Use Payz
To use Payz to make payments online, select this option upon checkout. Then, log in to your account. Verify the payment details and confirm. Then, follow any additional prompts to finalise the payment.
interac .png
How to Use Interac e-Transfer
Open your online banking app. Select the Interac e-Transfer option. Then, enter the recipient’s email address or mobile number and the amount you wish to send. Follow the instructions and confirm the transfer.

📊 Statistics on the Popularity of E-wallets in Canada

E-wallets have become increasingly popular in Canada, reflecting a shift towards digital and contactless payments. This section explores the latest statistics on the usage, transaction volumes, growth rates, and market share of e-wallets among Canadians.

  1. In the first half of 2023, 51% of Canadian consumers used their mobile wallets for in-store purchases. (RFI Global)
  2. 31% of Canadians believe that the biggest benefit of digital wallets is not having to carry around physical cards. (RFI Global)
  3. In the first half of 2023, 32% of Canadian consumers use mobile wallets daily, while 37% use them a few times weekly. (RFI Global)
  4. Eight of 10 Canadians use PayPal for online payments, while three out of 10 indicate using it for in-store purchases. (Statista)
  5. 22% of Canadians expect to use PayPal more in the next 12 months. (RFI Global)
  6. 47% of Canadian consumers used Apple Pay for in-store purchases, while 39% used it online. (PaymentsJournal)
  7. 31% of consumers in Canada used Google Pay for in-store purchases, while 43% used it for online purchases. (PaymentsJournal)
  8. 19% of Canadian consumers use Samsung Pay to pay for in-store purchases, while 27% use it online. (PaymentsJournal)
  9. In 2023, 20% of Canadian consumers use mobile payments at POS settings. (Statista)
  10. Next to credit cards, digital wallets are the second most used digital payment among Canadian shoppers. (Ayden, Statista)
  11. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, 7% of Canadian consumers say they’ve started using Interac e-Transfer more, 58% say their usage is about the same, and 35% say they’re using it less. (Payments Canada)
  12. Similarly, since the pandemic, 14% of Canadian shoppers have started using PayPal more, 65% are using it just about the same, and 21% are using it less. (Payments Canada)
  13. 45% of Canadians who used their mobile wallet for in-store purchases state they have been using it more since the pandemic hit. (Payments Canada)
  14. The number and value of mobile payments grew by 17% and 31% from 2020, respectively. (Payments Canada)
  15. Among the digital wallet users in Canada, 66% said that the COVID-19 pandemic pushed them towards digital payment methods and away from cash. (GetApp)

⚖️ Comparison of Digital Wallets

Here’s a table comparing the features of significant industry players to help you decide which digital wallet to buy.

Digital Wallet Security User-friendliness Fees Acceptance Special Features
PayPal Passkeys, 24/7 fraud monitoring, data encryption, key pinning, email payment confirmations Intuitive interface, widely recognised and used No fees for in-store or online purchases, 5% fee for international transactions Widely accepted by online retailers, some physical stores One Touch, credit card rewards, Buyer Protection, third-party integrations
Apple Pay Biometric authentication (Face ID, Touch ID), encryption, device-specific tokens Integrated with Apple devices, easy to use Card processing fees Accepted at many retail locations and online stores Integration with Apple ecosystem
Google Pay Built-in protection, Google Find My Device to lock your device remotely, data privacy Simple setup, easy integration with Google ecosystem Generally free Similar to Apple Pay, accepted at several retail locations and online stores Integrations with Splitwise, other apps, and Google services, loyalty card and passes
Samsung Pay Card information encryption, fraud protection covered by your bank, biometric authentication (fingerprint, iris scan, or PIN) Easy to use on Samsung devices, supports both NFC and MST Completely free Accepted at many retail locations Magnetic Secure Transmission (MST) for broader compatibility, cash back rewards
Payz Two-step verification, SSL encryption Easy to use, deposit funds and make transfers easily Varied fees depending on transaction type, currency conversion, and account level Accepted by many online casinos and merchants Payz Plus debit card, multi-currency accounts, account levels, multi-lingual customer support
Interac e-Transfer Bank-grade security with encryption, secure online authentication Integrated with Canadian bank accounts Charges minimal fees Widely used in Canada for personal and business transactions Interac e-Transfer Request Money and Autodeposit

☝ How to Choose a Digital Wallet

Digital wallets are generally secure and convenient. However, to maximise its features, you must choose one that best suits your needs. Here are some factors you need to look into:

payment .png
Step 1
Security Features
Key security features you should look for in a digital wallet include multi-factor and biometric authentication, encryption and tokenisation, and fraud detection. These features help protect your financial information from unauthorised access and potential fraud.
payment .png
Step 2
Compatibility with Devices
Some digital wallets are only available for certain devices or operating systems. For example, Apple Pay can only be accessed via Apple devices, such as a Macbook, iPhone, or Apple Watch. Ensure that your digital wallet works seamlessly with any device you frequently use.
payment .png
Step 3
Merchant Acceptance
It would be a bummer to open a digital wallet account only to discover that your favourite online shop doesn’t accept those payments. Choose a digital wallet that’s widely accepted by merchants. For example, if you use digital wallets for online gambling, you can opt for Payz.
payment .png
Step 4
Fees
Review the fees associated with using the digital wallet. Some wallets may charge fees for certain transactions, such as international payments, currency conversion, or instant transfers. Understanding the fee structure will help you choose a wallet that offers cost-effective solutions.

🙌 Pros and Cons of Digital Wallets

Digital wallets offer a convenient and secure way to manage your finances, but they have advantages and disadvantages. Let’s explore the key pros and cons to help you decide whether a digital wallet is right for you.

  • Convenience: Gone are the days when you must use cash to make purchases. A digital wallet makes purchasing easier.
  • Enhanced Security: Digital wallet companies have implemented robust security features to secure your financial data.
  • Fast Transactions: Unlike online banking payments, e-wallet transactions often take minutes to complete.
  • Rewards and Cashback: For example, Samsung Pay allows you to earn rewards every time you make payments through the app.
  • Dependency on Technology: When you don’t have internet access, or your phone battery dies, you can’t make payments.
  • Security Risks: The downside of any digital technology is the risk of hacks and data breaches. To mitigate such risks, implement certain measures to safeguard your data. For example, assign strong passwords and enable multi-factor authentication.
  • Limited Acceptance in Some Regions or Stores: Some merchants don’t accept e-wallets as payment. Also, some e-wallets aren’t available in some regions. For example, Cash App isn’t available in Canada but only in the US and the UK.
  • Potential Fees: Some digital wallets charge hefty fees. For example, we know that PayPal has higher transaction fees than other payment methods. Do your research beforehand.

🤔 Are Digital Wallets Safe?

The convenience that digital wallets offer is undeniable. However, security is of utmost importance. Here are some ways these apps keep your financial information safe:

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Encryption and Tokenisation

This acts like a secret code. When purchasing, your digital wallet creates a unique token (a random set of numbers) to replace your actual credit card details. This token is specific to the transaction and useless to anyone who might intercept it.

Property DepositWithdrawal removebg preview .png

Multi-factor Authentication (MFA)

To add an extra layer of defence, MFA requires more than just your password to access your digital wallet. This could involve a PIN, fingerprint scan, facial recognition, or a code sent to your phone—ensuring only you or someone with your phone and knowledge of the additional factor can access your wallet.

Property DepositWithdrawal removebg preview .png

Biometric Authentication

Some digital wallets utilise fingerprint scanning or facial recognition technology. This uses your unique biological characteristics for a highly secure login process and adds another hurdle for potential intruders.

Here’s a table comparing the security features of major digital wallets in Canada.

Encryption Multi-Factor Auth. Biometric Auth. Fraud Detection
PayPal
Apple Pay
Google Pay
Samsung Pay
Interac Depends on the bank’s policy Depends on the bank’s policy
Payz

📈 Increasing Adoption of Digital Wallets in Canada and Worldwide

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed Canadian shoppers to use digital payments more. However, beyond that, Canadians have shifted towards digital payments due to their convenience and security.

Check out the growth of digital wallet usage in Canada from 2016 to 2023.

Percentage of Canadians making mobile payments

🔗 Source: RFI Global

It’s evident in the following graph that PayPal is the most widely used digital payment platform. See how others fare:

Major e wallets usage in Canada

🔗 Source: PaymentJournal, Statista

🚀 Conclusion

It’s evident in the statistics that the popularity of e-wallets has increased significantly in Canada. Prominent services include PayPal, Samsung Pay, Apple Pay, Google Pay, Payz, and Interac e-Transfer.

The COVID-19 pandemic impacted how Canadian consumers pay for goods and services, moving towards digital and contactless payments. However, the upward trend in digital wallet usage is also driven by technological advancements, security, convenience, regulatory support, and enhanced user experience.

The bottom line is that most people don’t want to carry cash anymore, and digital wallets provide a great solution to cater to this preference.

References: 

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