News / Ottawa

Canada falling behind other countries in financial technology

Competition Bureau wants the government to look at regulations that might be in the way of Canada's Fintech sector.

Leila Wright, associate deputy commissioner with the bureau, said the financial technology industry has a huge potential in Canada.

David Paul Morris / Toronto Star Staff

Leila Wright, associate deputy commissioner with the bureau, said the financial technology industry has a huge potential in Canada.

Canada’s Competition Bureau wants the government to take a hard look at regulations that could be keeping banking apps and other technologies out of the country.

The bureau issued a report earlier this month on the financial technology or FinTech sector, raising concerns about the sector in Canada.

A survey done by accounting firm Ernst and Young found roughly 18 per cent of Canadians have adopted these technologies. The average for the 20 nations surveyed was 33 per cent.

Leila Wright, associate deputy commissioner with the bureau, said this industry has a huge potential in Canada.

“We’re all players in the financial services sector, whether we are paying for groceries, getting a loan for a house or getting advice to save for an RRSP,” she said. “Canadians made more than 55 million retail financial transactions every single day.”

She said there are already a lot of banking apps and mobile wallets, like Apple Pay, in place in Canada, but they’re still rolling out slower than in other countries.

The bureau’s report found that in some cases, banking regulations are standing in the way of further adoption.

“The markets have changed, the players have changed and now it’s time for the regulations to change,” said Wright.

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Wright said that could involve changes to make it possible to apply for accounts and loans over the internet without a requirement to sign something in person. She said that could also involve creating a digital identification that would be recognized like a driver’s license, but would be transmitted digitally.

She said the government also has to think about the scale when it decides on regulations. Apps that let you buy coffee with your phone and bank with it might be doing some of the same functions, but not on the same scale.

“If one of these coffee shops goes out of business then I lose my $20. If something happens with a financial institution than it’s a much bigger risk and that’s something that needs to be regulated in a very different way.”

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