Amid questions on progress, Canada’s open banking lead says implementation “absolutely” remains on track

Elevate Tech Fest FinTech Stage 2022
Path to open banking panel at Elevate 2022.
Abraham Tachjian says 2021 open banking report is his “roadmap.”

Since 2018, Canada has been on a long, delay-ridden journey to implement open banking.

Given the status of efforts to date, some members of the country’s financial services community have questioned whether those tasked with implementing open banking in Canada will be able to meet the two-phase, 18-month timeline outlined in the Advisory Committee on Open Banking’s long-awaited report.

Asked whether open banking work remains on track, Tachjian responded, “absolutely.”

With the target deadline for phase one now fast approaching, Canada’s open banking lead Abraham Tachjian spoke to these efforts during a September 21, BetaKit-programmed panel on Canada’s path to open banking at Elevate Festival.

During the panel, moderated by BetaKit editor-in-chief Douglas Soltys, Tachjian said that he is using the 2021 report as a “roadmap” for how to design and implement open banking in Canada, and claimed the ongoing efforts to roll out open banking remain on track.

Many of the concerns regarding delays predate Tachjian. Since 2020, Canadian FinTech leaders have expressed frustration at the pace of initial consultation efforts and pressed for progress on Canada’s open banking file following the eventual release of the advisory committee’s open banking report in August 2021. Eight months later, in March 2022, Tachjian was appointed, and in July, working groups were assigned to begin meeting to tackle core components, including accreditation, privacy, liability, and security.

Speaking to some of these delays, panellist Ilse Treurnicht (managing partner of TwinRiver Capital and a member of the committee that produced said report) noted that the advisory committee set out to do three things: centre the public policy objective and consumer interest, frame some of the complexity associated with open banking, and urge the government to commit to a specific timeline. “This is not a simple process,” she said.

“I think what the industry needs more than anything is visibility on when this is going to be implemented, given that they’ve been dangling along,” added Treurnicht.

RELATED: Open banking working group failing to address critical governance, standards issues

Speaking on the panel to the concerns of FinTech startups across the country waiting for the data access and interoperability that a functional open banking system would provide, Sue Britton expressed worry that Canada will be able to meet this timeline.

“This matters a lot,” said Britton, co-founder of Fathom4sight and a Finance Canada FinPay committee member, who outlined both the size of the country’s FinTech sector and the stakes involved.

Britton noted that the open banking working groups have six or so meetings left to go, which she said will take them until December. But by the open banking report’s roadmap, they are expected to have something ready to test, despite a lack of clarity on both governance and technical standards for the system.

“There’s an incredible amount of work to do,” added Britton.

But when asked by Soltys whether this work remains on track timeline-wise, Tachjian responded, “absolutely.”

“I promise you we will have something that globally we can be proud of,” he added.

View the full discussion below.

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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. He was also the winner of SABEW Canada’s 2023 Jeff Sanford Best Young Journalist award.

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