Visa Canada, Plug and Play team up to support Canadian FinTech startups

With new partnership, US payments giant and investor build on existing relationship.

Visa Canada is partnering with global accelerator and venture capital firm Plug and Play to help fuel the growth of early-stage FinTech startups in Canada.

Through this collaboration, qualifying Canadian FinTech firms in the payments space will be able to tap into Visa’s products, expertise, and network via the American payments giant’s Fintech Fast Track Program (FFTP). Startups will also have access to exclusive events and potentially even more programming down the road.

“Our aim is to foster growth in the Canadian FinTech ecosystem, and we think what Plug and Play is doing is really complementary.”

-Chris Ferron, Visa Canada head of digital partnerships and FinTech

“Our goals are very much aligned to theirs,” Visa Canada head of digital partnerships and FinTech Chris Ferron told BetaKit in an exclusive interview. “Our aim is to foster growth in the Canadian FinTech ecosystem, and we think what Plug and Play is doing is really complementary.”

Silicon Valley-headquartered Plug and Play has had a presence in Canada since 2020, when it opened its first Canadian office in Mississauga, Ontario. In 2021, Plug and Play expanded to Alberta with new locations in Calgary and Edmonton.

Ismail Khalil, head of FinTech partnerships at Plug and Play Toronto, told BetaKit that Plug and Play is launching a Canadian FinTech platform that will be headquartered in Toronto. Visa Canada is supporting these efforts as a founding sponsor.

“Plug and Play is a trusted global partner of Visa, and we’re thrilled to announce our new partnership in Canada, contributing to the growth of the local FinTech and innovation ecosystem,” said Khalil.

This move builds on Visa’s existing relationship with Plug and Play in the United States, where the pair launched the Visa Inclusive Fintech Accelerator, a program aimed at fostering diversity and inclusivity in the sector.

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Ferron called Visa Canada’s partnership with Plug and Play a “a good marriage” that will give FinTech firms participating in Plug and Play “preferential treatment” through FFTP. Visa’s FTTP initiative helps FinTech and crypto firms bring new payment solutions to market by granting select founders access to Visa products, APIs, and insights, and pairing them with “pre-selected enablers.”

“Our program is meant to match-make and help them get their businesses up and running more quickly and to scale,” said Ferron.

While the initiative has “quietly” been available in Canada for a few years now, Ferron said Visa is now ready to announce FFTP’s existence in the country.

“With over 130 ventures team members globally, our ventures team acts like a global sourcing arm for our corporate partners,” said Khalil. “We currently have over 550 corporations that trust us with their innovation objectives. We connect these corporations to the world’s leading startups.”

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Khalil said that Plug and Play aims to serve as a “feeder” for Visa within Canada’s “burgeoning FinTech landscape” and help keep the payments giant ahead of new trends in the market, working as an extension of Visa’s local innovation teams.

Visa typically works with payment businesses that have identified a big customer need. “When Visa makes the decision to invest and partner with a FinTech, our interest is really in their success,” said Ferron, who noted that when Visa’s partners grow, so does Visa.

According to Ferron, this work with Plug and Play represents just one aspect of Visa’s overall FinTech strategy.

“Building a FinTech in today’s market is no small feat, between navigating a complicated regulatory environment, refining product-market fit, and developing a strong go-to-market strategy,” said Ferron.

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In this context, Ferron and Visa Canada see room to provide other FinTech firms with the resources and guidance they need to succeed.

“The time is now for FinTech partners to work with [Visa] and to benefit from the fact that we have already done that building for them,” said Ferron. “Because of that, we can bring them this unparalleled platform and unparalleled support.”

Ismail Khalil said Plug and Play has “big plans for the future in our work with Visa.”

As to how this Visa Canada-Plug and Play partnership might evolve over time, Ferron noted that this collaboration “establishes the platform upon which we can build,” adding, “there will be a number of different interactions” between Visa, Plug and Play, and Canadian FinTech firms.

Asked whether the two organizations plan to launch any new programs together geared towards Canadian FinTech startups down the road, Khalil said Plug and Play has “big plans for the future in our work with Visa.”

According to Khalil, goal number one is to set up a strong FinTech platform here. “We will then look to build on our offering in Canada jointly as future opportunities open up.”

For now, Ferron said Visa Canada’s focus is on meeting and engaging with new FinTech startups through events, expanding its existing relationships, and shining a light on the existence of FFTP.

Feature image courtesy Visa.

Josh Scott

Josh Scott

Josh Scott is a BetaKit reporter focused on telling in-depth Canadian tech stories and breaking news. His coverage is more complete than his moustache.

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