Last year, the federal government tapped a fintech leader to lead development toward establishing Canada’s open banking system.
The Department of Finance Canada named Abraham Tachjian, director of digital banking at PwC Canada, as “the open banking lead” in 2022.
Tachjian’s role involves engaging stakeholders to develop an accreditation framework and technical standards for an open banking system, as well as advising government on the future of Canada’s system of open banking.
Since then, not much open banking progress been observed in Canada, although open banking has advanced in many other rival nations.
This month, Tachjian announced that his initial 18-month term—due to end—has been extended.
“I am happy to report that I will continue as Canada’s open banking lead until the end of the year,” the financial executive stated online.
Although he had no specific updates on open banking progress in Canada, Tachjian reiterated his dedication to improving fintech infrastructure nationwide.
“When I started, I mentioned that my goal was to enable Canadians and businesses to gain greater control over their financial data and be better equipped to manage their finances,” he stated. “I remain committed to this and will continue to work with all stakeholders to make it a reality in Canada.”
Tachjian has a tall task ahead of him. Participants in Canada’s open banking ecosystem are varied, from data providers and data recipients to government bodies and of course end users and consumers.
“The challenge is to have all these participants work together to provide a seamless experience even though each participant has different abilities and drivers,” Saba Shariff, a senior executive at Symcor, noted in a recent interview with Fintech.ca. “Ultimately, the Open Banking ecosystem should have the Canadian consumer at front of mind, with processes and structures that enable convenience, lack of friction and—most importantly—trust in the security of the entire ecosystem.”
Such complexity may be a factor contributing to Canada’s slowness in implementing infrastructure.
Michael Garrity, founder of Financeit, sees slow-and-steady as a wise strategy regarding safeguarding private financial data, “so I completely understand a thoughtful approach,” he says.
However, there are limits to patience. At some point, one has to wonder whether Canada is simply dropping the ball on this play.
“We are one of the slowest countries in the Western world to implement open banking,” he lamented in a May interview with Fintech.ca, adding there are no excuses for Canada: “In the end, it is really not rocket science and there are plenty of effective, operational frameworks to borrow from.”
For what it’s worth, most consumers in Canada aren’t even aware of open banking as a concept yet.
A summertime survey by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada found that, despite government strides toward implementing financial innovation, only 9% of Canadians had heard of open banking.
Overall, Canadians distrust new fintech.
A framework for open banking tailored to the Canadian context remains expected by the end of this year.