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We found Ontario to be a well-balanced region for us from a standpoint of cost effectiveness and resource availability, including easy access to talent.
Things happen in an instant in the digital world. Need to know something now? No problem – Google can deliver in seconds. Want new clothes? A few clicks get you outfitted in the season's latest styles.
But for businesses that send and receive payments across international borders, the speed of transactions isn't quite as swift. It can take days before funds appear in the destination account, and the parties involved usually don't know precisely when their payment transactions will be completed.
"There are a lot of challenges in cross border payments," says Abdul Naushad, executive chairman and founder of PayCommerce Inc., a New Jersey-based company that owns one of the world's leading open cross border payments networks. "Traditional channels can be very expensive – costing about $40 to $60 dollars (U.S.) per transaction – and there's no transparency on exchange rates. So there's a huge cost in the process and businesses are uncertain most of the time if the monies will get there tomorrow or three days later."
Recognizing these challenges, Naushad shifted his company's focus from domestic payments to cross border business-to-business transactions. Since PayCommerce launched in 2007, the company has evolved to address the needs of its international market. Today, it eases disbursement and acceptance transactions through a global bank-to-bank network that includes more than 100 member banks in 76 countries.
"We can reduce transaction costs by about 80%," says Naushad, whose company has grown from five employees in its first year to about 150 across eight countries. "But not only do we cut costs, we also give you full transparency into exchange rates and we enable faster payments."
From the start, technology and innovation have been key success drivers for PayCommerce, whose competitive advantages include a single platform for managing global transactions from beginning to end. To ensure continued market leadership and ongoing improvement in its services, PayCommerce decided to build a centre dedicated solely to research and development. Naushad and his team looked at a number of potential locations – including several countries in Europe – but chose to set up in Ontario.
In November 2016, PayCommerce opened its R&D centre in Mississauga, Ontario – the company's first and only location in Canada. Naushad said this new site is now ground zero for developing and building cutting-edge payment solutions. In particular, they plan to focus on blockchain and artificial intelligence-based technologies.
"We wanted to make sure we could assemble a global team in one location where we could transform this team's diverse knowledge base into the next generation of cross border payments technology," says Naushad. "We found Ontario to be a well-balanced region for us from a standpoint of cost effectiveness and resource availability, including easy access to talent. We're driving a lot of futuristic innovations so there needs to be technology talent available."
PayCommerce needs employees with advanced technology skills to help build its next-generation payment solutions, says Naushad. So far the company has hired five employees from Ontario's labour pool, which includes roughly half of Canada's IT workers and is fed by top-ranking engineering and technology schools such as those at the University of Toronto and University of Waterloo.
In addition to hiring locally, PayCommerce is bringing in talent from other parts of the world to its Mississauga, Ontario centre.
"We're planning to hire and relocate high-level talent, who will probably be moving their families here as well," he says.
It's important for them to be excited about working and living here, and the quality of life in Ontario makes it easy for people to be happy here.
Ontario's optimal location was also a deciding factor for PayCommerce, says Naushad. The company's Mississauga office is a short drive to two airports, making it easy to fly in employees and customers from anywhere in the world.
Proximity to Canada's financial services capital in Toronto – located 30 minutes away from Mississauga – was another important factor in PayCommerce's decision to build its R&D centre in Ontario.
"We have customers and prospects in the region that we are working with to plug them into our global network," says Naushad.
As PayCommerce continues to build its new R&D centre in Ontario, Naushad sees his company tapping into the province's large network of researchers and innovators, particularly in Artificial Intelligence (AI). Already, PayCommerce – which recently tested the world's first real-time cross border payments network – has started to seek introductions to Ontario universities that are leading the way in AI research.
Over the coming months and years, the Mississauga, Ontario centre will be expanded to also include operations, risk management and compliance activities.
"All these different functions will eventually be moving to Ontario from different parts of the world," says Naushad. "The R&D centre is just Phase One of our plans for Ontario."
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All figures are in Canadian dollars unless otherwise noted. Information is accurate at the time of publication.