Canada's Competition Bureau sets sights on fintech

Canada's Competition Bureau sets sights on fintech

Canada's Competition Bureau has launched a fintech market study, looking into the effect that technology-led innovation is having on the financial services industry and whether it could require regulatory changes.

"The study will explore the competitive impact that fintech is having on the industry, barriers to entry faced by companies, and whether there is a need for regulatory reform to promote greater competition while maintaining consumer confidence in the sector," says the bureau.

The financial services industry accounted for around 10% of Canada's gross domestic product in 2014, with the banking industry employing some 280,000 people.

The sector has traditionally been dominated by the so-called 'big five' but a host of fintech startups have entered the field, using technology to compete in areas such as payments, lending and investing.

The bureau praises this development. arguing that they can provide Canadians with more choice, more efficient services and lower fees.

But banks have raised concerns that these upstarts do not face the same rules as traditional providers. Recently TD Bank CEO Bharat Masrani told a shareholder meeting: "I believe it would be appropriate for policy makers to consider a regulatory environment that ensures the safety of customer information and the integrity of our financial system."

A recent global PwC study found that banking executives fear that up to a quarter of their business could be at risk from emerging fintech firms. Canadian execs are among those concerned as more than 80 fintech firms - mainly based in Toronto and Vancouver - have emerged, scoring $1 billion in investments since 2010.

Yet, although Toronto has all the ingredients necessary to become a major fintech hub, it is failing to compete with the likes of London and New York because it has not developed a proper ecosystem, according to a report last year from UoT's Munk School of Global Affairs.

Interested parties can make a submission to the Competition Bureau here.

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