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Empowering Canadian Fintech: Reflections from the Halifax Roundtable

In mid-February, I was invited to participate in a distinguished roundtable event in Halifax Nova Scotia, co-hosted by Atlantic Fintech in partnership with League Data and East Bay Tech Lab on the topic of ‘Consumer Directed Finance and the Opportunity for Fintech in Atlantic Canada’


For me, a strong draw for attending and representing the Canadian RegTech Association at the event was that it would be an intimate event (18pp) and featured the Canadian Senate’s most visible member on LinkedIN Colin Deacon - Senate of Canada | Sénat du Canada | LinkedIn, a relentless champion for the technology startup ecosystem in Canada, the independent Senator Colin Deacon. In addition, Abraham A. Tachjian - PwC Canada | LinkedIn the former Open Banking lead for the GoC provided an in-depth walk thru the 18 month period beginning in March 2022 when he was presented the mandate (from Minister of Finance) to develop a “made-in-Canada” regime based on the recommendations in the final report of the Advisory Committee on Open Banking by engaging with industry, regulators, and consumer representatives to design and implement key pillars of the open banking system, including common rules and an accreditation framework for open banking participants.


Consumer Directed Finance (open banking) has become an integral aspect of our rapidly evolving financial landscape, impacting consumers' choices and the overall financial ecosystem. Senator Deacon, a recognized advocate for financial reform and consumer protection, shared his insights into the current legislative landscape and offered perspectives on the future of Consumer Directed Finance in Canada which we read more about re: timelines for implementation in the forthcoming release of the Federal Government’s budget on April 16th.


Also, in attendance were representatives of a handful of Fintech’s born in the Maritimes, along with the Executive Director of Fintech Cadence Layial El-Hadi - Fintech Cadence | LinkedIn

As a region, it’s estimated that 140+ Fintechs are headquartered in the Atlantic provinces alone - this was a number far bigger than I would have guessed! As an industry, there was a belief in the room that there should be a concerted effort to enhance awareness amongst various levels of government about this sector of the economy. At the same time, it was acknowledged that  Fintech and Consumer Directed Finance are not ‘doorstep’ issues that politicians are likely to hear much about from their constituents/ the voting public.


Layial from Fintech Cadence shared the perspective from her travels across the country recently that she hears similar refrains from Fintech’s in the western provinces, as well as Ontario and Quebec - re: desire to enhance the visibility of each of these regions for developing Fintech’s. At the same time, she emphasized the reality that the market opportunities in Canada for Fintech’s is relatively small on a global basis and that developing ‘regional’ approaches is missing the bigger shared opportunity, beyond our borders.


What came to mind for me in this room in Halifax, was the decision made by the Canadian Olympic Committee shortly after the 2010 Winter Games were awarded to Vancouver-Whistler that investments would be prioritized for those Olympic sports in which Canadian athletes showed the greatest potential for winning a medal, this was the ‘Own the Podium’ program which resulted in 14 Gold medals for Canada, the most of any nation.


Our nation’s financial services sector is envied around the world for its stability and with rare exception, absence of any government bailout of institutions. Our technology sector is vibrant and growing, a significant sector of employment. Where we are coming up short is the degree to which Canadian financial institutions are re-investing in their technology and innovation programs. With a timeline for implementation of Consumer Directed Finance and the first read-only transaction ~ 18 months away, I fully anticipate the sector to accelerate the pace of adoption for innovative Canadian made Fintech and importantly, RegTech solutions in the very near future. A shared commitment from all the participants within our financial services industry to scale and grow Canadian technology beyond the limited market at home should be a shared vision that we want to realize as a nation.

Blog written by Paul Childerhose, Director at the Canadian RegTech Association (CRTA).

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