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Digital money is an opportunity for Canada – if we seize it

The Globe and Mail | and | Oct 21, 2021

Digital future - Digital money is an opportunity for Canada – if we seize itRobert Fay is the managing director of digital economy at the Centre for International Governance Innovation. David Dodge is a former governor of the Bank of Canada and is senior adviser at Bennett Jones LLP.

Around the world financial systems are digitizing to provide faster, cheaper and more secure and comprehensive services to households and businesses.

Meanwhile, cryptocurrencies, stablecoins and central bank digital currencies are attracting substantial public attention. They are reflections of the continuing digitalization of the global economy, driven by innovation and competition, that is creating new opportunities worldwide.

The potential benefits are many.

Digital currencies and payments can speed up and lower transaction costs, both domestically and especially across borders, while bolstering security. Financial technology (fintech) is expanding the range of financial services available in the marketplace.

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Open banking allows consumers and small businesses to securely and efficiently transfer their financial data among financial institutions and accredited third-party service providers. It can stimulate competition, facilitate access, and expand the range of services available to households and businesses.

And central bank digital currencies can spur innovation and boost financial inclusion, ensuring all have access to digital services.

But fully harnessing the benefits of digitalization will require a sound and coherent framework that ensures collaboration between the public and private sectors.

We recently held a workshop to hear the opinions of international and Canadian experts in this domain. As we explain in more detail in a new report, we argue there are three essential steps that Canada must take.

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First, Canadian governments and service providers need to work together to deliver what has already been placed on the agenda; namely, a modernized payments system and secure data transfer to facilitate open banking.

Second, Canada requires a thoroughly updated legislative framework for privacy and data management, and the adoption of industry standards for digital identification. Governments, the central bank, and regulators, working with market participants, must adapt existing policy frameworks to accommodate and harness change in a manner that supports a financial system that is efficient, competitive, stable, secure, inclusive, and one that instills trust. It is essential to ensure data security and privacy and enable consumers to have greater control over their financial data in ways that promote sound competition.

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Third, regulatory gaps must be remedied. Existing regulatory frameworks are ill-suited to deal with new and emerging market structures.

Federal leadership here is crucial.  Risks must be taken.

To deliver on these three essential steps, the federal government must exert strong leadership in mobilizing the necessary collective effort; making policy and market choices will require a careful balancing of objectives. Win-win solutions must be pursued, but there will be trade-offs at the margins – for example, between efficiency and stability, or between compliance and privacy.

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Digital money is an opportunity for Canada – if we seize it The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

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