Canadian FinTech leaders press Government of Canada for progress on open banking

Open letter calls on feds to appoint open banking lead, adopt recommendations outlined in last year’s report.

Canadian tech leaders are calling upon Canada’s federal government to appoint an open banking lead and start implementing the other recommendations made by the Advisory Committee on Open Banking in last year’s long-awaited report.

In an open letter published March 14 by the Council of Canadian Innovators (CCI) and addressed to Randy Boissonnault, Canada’s associate finance minister, a group of Canadian FinTech execs and industry stakeholders have expressed frustration regarding the Government of Canada’s progress on open banking and fear that the country’s open banking file “is being left to gather dust.”

“It has been 222 days since the report was released, and we still do not know when the government’s open banking lead will be named.”

Following a long consultation process that began over three years ago and was criticized by FinTech companies for its speed, Canada’s Advisory Committee on Open Banking completed its report last year and released it to the public in August 2021.

The CCI letter, which comes nearly a year after the federal government completed its open banking report, has a list of 12 Canadian tech executive signatories that includes CCI VP Patrick Searle, Borrowell CEO Andrew Graham, Loop CEO Cato Pastoll, Mogo CEO David Feller, FISPAN Chair Lisa Shields, and PayTechs of Canada Executive Director Alex Vronces.

The group is calling for the Government of Canada to take action. They are asking for the appointment of the open banking lead, who would have a mandate to advance open banking, as recommended by the 2021 report as part of phase one. The group is also asking the government to clarify whether it plans to implement all of the report’s recommendations for modernizing Canada’s financial services sector.

“The advisory committee’s report is a big document,” Vronces told BetaKit. “There are many recommendations in there. Some of them require—if the government were to adopt them—legislative work, policymaking work, the standing up of a formal governance entity [to] manage and oversee the open banking system. There’s been no indication that any of that work is going to happen.”

“We are going to get a lead, hopefully sooner [rather] than later,” added Vronces. “But what exactly is that lead going to do? And what role is the government going to play in supporting that lead to deliver on the advisory committee’s recommendations?”

RELATED: FinTech startups frustrated with glacial pace of Canada’s open banking consultations

The letter’s signatories remain optimistic about Minister Boissonnault’s ability to “breathe new life” into this file, highlighting the “genuine openness and interest” his office has shown to meet with FinTech leaders regarding open banking.

“Yet it has been 222 days since the report was released, and we still do not know when the government’s open banking lead will be named or if the government plans to implement all recommendations from the advisory committee’s report,” states the letter.

Given this, the letter questions whether the Liberal Party’s 2021 pledge to introduce open banking by 2023 will come to fruition.

“In both the government’s election platform and Minister Boissonnault’s recent mandate letter, there was the commitment to launch made-in-Canada open banking by early 2023—both of which were encouraging,” Graham told BetaKit. “So it was surprising to not see it mentioned in the Department of Finance’s departmental plan. Nor have we seen the appointment of an open banking lead, which is an important step in the process.”

RELATED: Canada open banking report released

According to Vronces, within the context of what Canada’s federal government has promised, Minister Boissonnault has done “a great job,” showing “keen interest” in making progress on open banking. “Where there are concerns still, however, is in what the government has promised—it’s still unclear,” he said.

“Since the release of the report, progress has been slow,” said Vronces. “To be fair to the government, a lot has been happening. A lot has been happening that’s perceived as more important than financial sector policy files … But things do need to move eventually.”

Graham described open banking as “a big opportunity for Canada.” He acknowledged the many demands facing the Canadian government today, but emphasized that “we need to maintain momentum towards a successful launch of open banking.”

The Borrowell CEO said he hopes the letter “adds to the momentum and urgency” towards a successful launch of open banking in Canada, as promised, early next year.

Feature image by Jp Valery via Unsplash.

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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