Never mind Tim Hortons coffee and hockey — when it comes to spotting a Canadian, look for a fiercely loyal person who loves free stuff.

When Harinder Takhar was looking to launch a new bill payment service in Canada, he realized that these two traits would be important. “Everybody in Canada loves points,” says Takhar. “Canadians tend to be loyal to their favourite brands and companies, and they appreciate being rewarded for that loyalty.” So, when he launched Paytm, a mobile app that allows users to aggregate all their bills in one place and pay them with whatever method they prefer, he knew that reward points would be the key to retaining customers. “You pay your bills anyway, but now you can collect points for it,” says Takhar. “Plus, you can use those points and redeem them for rewards at every major retailer in the country.”

The app, in retrospect, seems like something that should have already existed, but the same is true for many major innovations. “We were asking ourselves what we could do in Canada that would improve the payment landscape,” says Takhar. “We already have tap and pay, but there are so many other things that are decades old and haven’t changed. We realized that the lowest common denominator that touches every person is bill payments. Everyone has a bill to pay.”

Locally-made and operated, for your safety

Critical to the conception of the app was the idea that it needed to be Canadian from the ground up. All the operations take place in Canada and all the data is drawn, securely, from Canadian consumers. “We’re based in Toronto, which is where we built the product,” says Takhar. “Being a payments company, we understand the value of having data security and privacy at the heart of our offering.”

With Canadians pumped for rewards points, offerings like Paytm’s are recognizing that these consumer-focused benefits don’t need to be strictly tied to purchases. This unique approach linking pain points and program profits is just the beginning of a seismic shift in how we think about loyalty programs.