Mutual Aid Options in Canada

“We support us”

This is the punk ethos running through so many of the communities I’m a part of or associated with. We take care of each other, and in a capitalist hellworld that means moving money around.

Moving money today means using a third party service if some sort, you can’t pass a $20 bill through ActivityPub. The Wars on Terror, Drugs, etc mean those services are beholden to tracking and reporting requirements, making things much harder for all of us. Each service has its own benefits, cons, and costs.

The main options here are PayPal, Stripe, and Interac email transfers.


The good: relatively quick payouts, international

The bad: Deadnames, data collection and retention

PayPal I is about the most mature way to e-transfer money in Canada. Transfers to bank accounts are fairly fast (I usually see it in 2-3 days), or instant for supported bank cards (not BMO, I haven’t found a list). The downside is that they cling to your deadname like Di Caprio in that boat movie, and they will show it to everyone you send money to.

PayPal pushes donors to have an account, and they collect and retain a mountain of data on everyone they can.


The good: not PayPal, international, good name policy

The bad: can be slow

Stripe is a payment platform that’s available via Ko-Fi, and also allows users to set up direct payment/donation links. They support instant payouts for a small number of banks (TD, Royal, CIBC, not BMO) but otherwise it can take up to a week, which may be a problem in a mutual aid “I’m hungry today” situation.

One area Stripe is head and shoulders above the competition is their name policy. Most Stripe transactions I see are from “unnamed customer”, with a couple more whose names match their Fediverse accounts. No apparent “Steve Deadname” transactions, which is nice for everyone.

Interac Email

The good: instant, cheap or free

The bad: deadnames, Canadian only

Available to most Canadian bank accounts, Interac email transfers are pretty great. They’re cheap or free to send, instant or nearly so (they can take up to a few hours if the network is busy), and can go to & from pretty much any bank account in Canada. The main downsides are that they require a Canadian bank account, and it will show the recipient the name your bank has on file.


The good: convenient, adds a community, sad-trombone-but-they-tried name policy

The bad: another layer of fees, beholden to payment processor’s deadname policy

Ko-Fi is a crowdfunding platform that adds community and marketing tools in front of the actual payment platform. It backends on PayPal and/or Stripe (and offers turnkey Stripe setup if you don’t already have an account there; it’s super convenient).

Ko-Fi uses the name the donor provides, but then the payment processor does their own thing; I have a pile of Ko-Fi emails from “Mrs. Linda Really” with matching PayPal emails from “Steve Deadname”. It’s impolite, but at least they tried.

Anyway, I hope this is helpful.

Please do comment if you know other options available here, or have thoughts to add.

Author: Eddie Roosenmaallen

By day I'm the Release Manager at Distributive; I help build the Distributed Compute Protocol at In my off time I explore Linux, JavaScript and the web, and I try to share some of my knowledge and some of my humour online.

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