Interac Opens Innovation Lab at Communitech

A well-known homegrown fintech is opening up an innovation outpost at one of the country’s leading tech hubs.

Interac has announced their new Interac Lab, located at Communitech in Kitchener-Waterloo. The new lab will focus on innovation and acceleration by supporting research and development and offering a unique space to test out new tech and platforms. Tricia Gruetzmacher will be the director of the new lab.

“The knowledge-sharing that comes with being a part of Communitech is invaluable to our co-op students and team, and hopefully to the others throughout the space,” said Gruetzmacher. “Collaborating daily with others in the tech community helps us stay nimble and agile as we create and test use cases that will accelerate our product development.”

The Interac Lab will focus on three main things:

  • Developing new payment capabilities by solving problems through ideation and research. This will involve creating many proofs of concept, making Interac agiler as they learn how to go-to-market quicker.
  • Improving how consumers and businesses move money by creating and solving use cases delving into the main ways Canadians transfer and access funds. The company has launched partnerships in this area before (most recently with Nanopay) and now realizes this is a key area to expand further into, considering Canadians are transferring money at record rates.
  • Exploring the future of the payments ecosystem through emerging technologies like IoT, AI, and blockchain.

“Having a nationally-recognized brand like Interac engage with our community and help build technology for today and the future is wonderful,” said Iain Klugman, CEO of Communitech. “As a leader in their industry, we’re excited to have Interac join our ecosystem of labs amongst the most innovative in Canada.”

This lab will boast a full-time staff as well as a rotating group of co-op students from STEM programs surrounding Kitchener-Waterloo. This bodes well for Interac, considering the area is Canada’s fastest-growing market for tech talent and other tech-focused initiatives like have recently opened up.

“Opening the Interac Lab positions us to continue to evolve as the payments sphere changes,” said Debbie Gamble, VP of digital product and platforms at Interac. “Kitchener-Waterloo is an incredible place with such a wealth of tech knowledge. We’re excited to learn from some of the best minds while we explore new ways to use our products and platforms.”

Interac has a good relationship with Communitech, having hosted a Collision Day there in 2017 that gave participants access to the company’s e-transfer public API. The fintech has been growing exponentially over the past few years and recently hit a milestone of two million transactions in one day on June 1.

Kitchener-Waterloo has been a hotbed in terms of new labs and hubs opening up over the past little while. Google invested in the city’s STEM community and opened up a community space two months ago while Sportlogiq opened an AI lab last month.