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Opinion: Canada’s Open Banking Governance Challenge

Canada Today | Claire Clarkson | Oct 21, 2022

Governance - Opinion: Canada's Open Banking Governance ChallengeAbraham Tachjian is the man Ottawa has hired to develop an open banking system that is expected to roll out in 2023. As the clock ticks, industry players give him an ear on how to get the job done; Canada’s open banking czar is feeling the heat.

  • Open banking is a system that would allow consumers and small businesses to securely exchange their financial data between financial service providers such as banks and accredited fintechs. Also known as consumer-centric finance, it heralds the promise of giving Canadians more control over their finances while making it easier for them to switch lenders, open accounts and use new digital tools to manage their money.
  • Governance a priority:  Banks, credit unions and fintechs often have conflicting ideas about how to achieve these goals. But interestingly, there’s one issue they all seem to agree on these days: Tachjian-san needs to re-order his to-do list and bring governance to the top.  Governance is about ensuring accountability and public trust in the coming open banking system.
    • Mr. Tachjian’s governance challenge is to create an organization that oversees, implements and governs open banking across the country. Importantly, this entity is independent and accountable to the Canadian government and must provide consumers and small businesses with recourse should anything go wrong.
    • Establishing a governance framework is usually the first step in creating a new organization or system. But this is Canada, folks. Our country is characterized by doing things in the wrong order and making short work of good governance. (Just look at how flawed governance caused the current crisis at Hockey Canada.)

Watch Video:  NCFA Open Banking Governance with Senator Colin Deacon and Mahi Sall

Abraham Tachijian, Canada's Open Banking Lead

While policy work on the future of the system’s ongoing management and governance has been ongoing internally throughout this process, we have reached a point where we will shift our focus.  Once we have addressed these key issues, we will liaise again with the working groups and convene additional steering group meetings as needed.

  • Governance model in isolation from the four working committees:  But it’s still problematic that some secret group of people in some backroom hatched the governance for open banking. This lack of transparency is worrying.  Certainly, governance is a complex issue given the “diverging interests” of the various industry participants in an open banking system. But it was a mistake to continue working on the governance model in isolation from the four working groups. The governance model should have been established from the start to inform their work.

Governance should never be reverse engineered. Mr. Tachjian and the Ministry of Finance urgently need to bring this discussion to the fore. Otherwise, Canada risks putting the cart before the horse for open banking.

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NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Opinion: Canada's Open Banking Governance ChallengeThe 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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