Nov 20, 2017: NCFA Canada Welcomes Competition Bureau’s recommendations to encourage competition and innovation in Canada’s financial services sector

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NCFA Canada | Robin Ford | Nov 20, 2017

Competition Bureau request for public comments on draft study:  Technology-led innovation and emerging services in the Canadian financial services sector

The Competition Bureau recently announced a draft report and issued a request for public consultation regarding technology-led innovation and emerging services in the Canadian financial services sector.  The consultation took place between November 6 and November 20, 2017 (11:59 pm Pacific time). and interested parties including NCFA Canada were invited to provide their feedback on the draft report no later than November 20, 2017.

Visit this link to learn more about the Competition Bureau and the scope and the premise of the study/report:  http://www.competitionbureau.gc.ca/eic/site/cb-bc.nsf/eng/04315.html

NCFA Canada's submitted response:

  1. NCFA welcomes this report and its recommendations to encourage competition and innovation in Canada’s financial services sector.
  2. We agree that " competition is good for both business and consumers—and regulation should be minimally intrusive on market forces". We also agree that SMEs "are key drivers of economic growth—and their success is crucial to Canada's long‑term prosperity".
  3. We agree with the barriers to entry listed in the draft report (paragraphs in the report are not numbered) but would add to the list: inadequate incentives and assistance by governments, public funders, and regulators compared to other jurisdictions (eg, tax incentives, start-up loans or guarantees, grants, collaboration on data collection and analysis, educational programs for investors and start-ups, help with regulatory compliance, etc).As the draft report mentions, the UK has been very assertive in supporting start-ups and fintech. HM Treasury recently announced that small businesses struggling to access finance from the banks have found funds via government requirements that the biggest banks pass on the details of small businesses they have rejected for finance to alternative finance platforms - Funding Xchange, Business Finance Compared, Alternative Business Funding, and Funding Option. <https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/designation-of-banks-and-finance-platforms-for-finance-platforms-regulations>4. With respect to barriers caused by regulation, we add only that regulatory burden also tends to favour larger incumbent firms.5. Regulatory arbitrage is not necessarily a bad thing, as the report appears to suggest.6. We support all the recommendations in the report, in particular the recommendation for a FinTech policy lead in this complex and fast moving area.7. We would like to see an additional recommendation for more transparency in regulatory analysis. It has been very difficult in the past to respond to regulators' proposals because the published analyses have not been clear or complete. The problem proposed to be solved by regulation is rarely defined, the reasons for concluding that a regulatory intervention is needed are rarely set out, alternative solutions are not described with the reason(s) why one solution has been chosen rather than another, and (published) cost benefit analysis or impact assessment is rare. This means that stakeholders must infer much of the analysis and often do not have the data they need to respond. We would like to see a more transparent regulatory approach to reduce the risk of unnecessary or incorrect regulation and to enhance collaboration.

    We would also like to see the encouragement of fintech advisory groups to governments and regulators with strong representation from the businesses themselves.

    8. The statements in the following paragraph are contestable - some are highly contestable.

    "The large financial institutions in this country did not fail, largely due to Canada’s strong regulatory regime and the sound business practices of those institutions. Because our financial institutions did not fail, demand for P2P lending and equity crowdfunding is significantly lower in Canada than in jurisdictions where the financial crisis had a greater impact or where regulatory regimes were insufficient to prevent widespread bank failure. In those jurisdictions, regulators responded by strengthening restraints on financial institutions, effectively causing a contraction in available SME credit. As a result, demand for P2P lending and equity crowdfunding increased significantly faster than in Canada."

    We suggest that references to support these conclusions be added.

    9. We are not sure why, in the description of the UK's regulatory framework for P2P, the word "forces" rather than simply "requires" is used.

    10. We do not agree that "in the UK, [a] renewed focus on competition has led to the establishment of the "twin peaks" of regulatory structure: the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and the FCA." Rather, it was the other way round. As HM Treasury's consultation document of July 2010 states -

    "1.4 The UK’s ‘tripartite’ regulatory system made three authorities – the Bank of England (the Bank), the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and the Treasury – collectively responsible for financial stability, and, as a result, this system failed in a number of important ways."

    "1.6 Perhaps the most obvious failing of the UK system, however, is the fact that no single institution has the responsibility, authority or powers to monitor the system as a whole, identify potentially destabilising trends, and respond to them with concerted action." [https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/81389/consult_financial_regulation_condoc.pdf]

    The UK Government's decision to change the regulatory structure led to a renewed focus on (among other things) the competition objective of the regulator and (after strenuous debates in Parliament) a stronger competition objective was added to the legislation.

    11. We suggest that "risk" be defined. For most risk professionals, it simply means "uncertainty". With uncertainly comes both threat and opportunity. And of course risk does not exist in a vacuum, it is always 'risk to what?' (to competition? to regulatory objectives?).

    Thank you for the opportunity to comment.


 

The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with both social and investment crowdfunding, alternative finance, fintech, P2P, ICO, and online investing stakeholders across the country. NCFA Canada provides education, research, industry stewardship, and networking opportunities to over 1600+ members and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding industry in Canada.  For more information, please visit:  www.ncfacanada.org

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