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Event Wrap : Elevate Raises the Bar

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This year, multiple Interac peeps were in and around the Elevate festival. There was the Hackathon on the 21st where Interac employees participated as mentors and judges, a whole day dedicated to talent, and the (epic) party that happened on King West the night of the 26th.

Elevate represents the best of what Toronto has to offer in tech, innovation and community. Toronto is home to some of Canada’s leading innovators, which is why we thought it was important to support the Festival as a sponsor.

How we Build a Better Toronto

Over the last weekend in September, over 300 gathered at MaRS in Toronto to hack for a smart city. Attendees were presented with three challenges around building a smart economy, smart connected communities and smart vibrant living. The winning hack was built to help build community in apartment or condo buildings. Users sign up to the service and can share items in their house that aren’t being used with neighbours who are looking, perfect for household tools, pots and pans, or random things collecting dust.

The Winner: OpenDoor built by Stable Hacks

A Fintech Future, But Cash is Still King

On Tuesday, Debbie Gamble kicked off the Fintech track inside the Telus Tower with a talk on The Future of Fintech. A key message of her opening remarks, and the conversation that followed, was the importance of collaboration in moving tech in the finance industry forward. But as much as innovation has changed the way we exchange money, Debbie noted that cash isn’t going away any time soon – it is still the #1 way Canadians transact.

How Do We Enable Canadian Businesses?

Later that morning we heard from Paul Parisi, President of PayPal Canada on Fintech and the Future of Canadian Businesses. In his talk he discussed how Canadian small businesses are much less likely to have online payments enabled than businesses in other countries. During his talk he mentioned that only 17% of Canadian businesses are able to accept payments online. This gap is evident when comparing online retail sales among small businesses: one slide Paul discussed showed that in China, 20% of all retail sales happen online, 7% of retail sales are online in Australia and in Canada, 3% of retail sales happen online.

As a result there is huge potential in the Canadian market to expand ecommerce, and (here comes the collaboration message again) working together is key to meeting this potential.

Finally: Female Fintech Founders and Funders

My last session of the day was a panel featuring four leading women in fintech. Discussion centered on the specific challenges women in tech can face when starting or building their business. As a woman who works in tech, I feel the specific challenge here comes down to confidence. It is encouraging to know that at least half of the population struggles in some of the same ways I do, but this is a conversation it seems we’ve been having for over a year now.

It’s time to put our ideas to practice. One of the panelists said she had been used to thinking of empathy as a weakness, and used this as an example of how important it is to stop thinking that who you are translates to weakness. It’s more likely that women tend to be more risk astute and think differently in terms of what success can look like. But first we have to acknowledge our own biases and places where we lack confidence.

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