Competition Bureau weighs in on fintech: urgent action required

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TheGlobeandMail | Jeffrey Graham | Jan 3, 2018

For several decades, federal policy makers have been attempting to create more competition in our financial-services environment. Initiatives to facilitate the creation of additional domestic banks, provision of greater flexibility for foreign banks to choose forms of establishment and, more recently, allowing provincial credit unions to convert and become national co-operative banking institutions, have not really made much of a difference. Our large and highly respected major financial institutions continue to dominate.

The Canadian Competition Bureau has released its final market study report into technology-led innovation in Canada's financial-services sector. The study is a valuable addition to a growing body of analysis and evidence that we need to do more to ensure that Canada is not left behind, as fintech has the potential to make an increasingly important impact on the availability and delivery of financial services to Canadians.

In its study, the Bureau notes that since the 2007-08 global financial crisis, a new wave of financial-services firms has emerged, leveraging the latest technologies. In a number of jurisdictions, these firms are helping to reshape their domestic financial-services sectors and, in some cases, the leading firms are becoming national champions with global reach. The bureau notes that Canada lags behind its peers in fintech adoption; a number of reasons for slow adoption are suggested, including regulatory and non-regulatory barriers. The study makes a number of important recommendations to financial-sector regulators and policy makers focused on retail payments and the retail payments system, lending and equity crowdfunding, and investment dealing and advice.

Could it be that fintech could actually address the long-standing challenge of creating more competition in domestic financial services? Will the bureau recommendations, if adopted, make a positive impact in achieving that objective?

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The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a national non-profit actively engaged with social and investment crowdfunding, alternative finance, fintech, peer-to-peer (P2P), initial coin offerings (ICO), and online investing stakeholders across the country. NCFA Canada provides education, research, industry stewardship, networking opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, academia and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and online financing industry in Canada.  For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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