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Payments Canada Summit: open access and open banking

Payments Canada Summit: open access and open banking

Payments Canada is pushing hard for the government to open up access to the country's payment systems to local credit unions and payment service providers this year, CEO Tracey Black told the organisation’s summit in Toronto on Wednesday.

Late last year, a host of groups signed a letter asks Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland to amend the Canadian Payments Act to expand Payments Canada membership to eligible credit unions, PSPs and financial market infrastructure entities.

Moderating a panel on broadening access to payment systems, Black stressed that her organisation will continue to advocate for the changes to happen in 2023.

Wise global head of policy and social impact, Nick Catino, provided a strong case for the value of securing direct access to payment systems. When the payments company get access in the UK, it was able to pass on a 20% price drop to customers. Meanwhile, the average payment time went from 15 minutes through an intermediary to 20 seconds.

Grant MacKenzie from Peoples Group was able to offer the audience some perspective on the process of securing direct clearer status in the Automated Clearing Settlement System.

Last year, the firm became the first to receive the status since the ACSS launched in 1984. That meant, he explained, that there was no “playbook” and the process took two years. However, it has meant that Peoples can significantly expand the range of services it offers it paytech and fintech clients.

At least, noted Black, there is now a playbook for other firms looking to follow Peoples’ lead.

Hanna Zaidi from WealthSimple said that joining Payments Canada has been crucial to the firm’s ambitions to become its three million users’ primary financial provider. The company, which began life as a wealth platform, is moving into payments and has also become the first non-bank to get account for new Bank of Canada real-time payment system.

However, for a real “game-changer”, Zaidi said that Canada needs to move ahead with proper implementation of open banking, not this “industry-led thing”.

Zaidi’s comments led into a new panel on Open Banking, which saw Saba Shariff from vendor Symcor offer a partial defence of Canada’s tardy progress on the subject. While the UK, Australia, Singapore and others have already rolled out open banking regimes, all have been far from perfect, warned Shariff.

The UK went deep, focusing on banking, while Australia went wide, encompassing a host of areas such as energy. Both are now facing problems that Canada can learn from.

The keys to successful open banking, she argued, will be incentives, collaboration and trust. Describing herself as a “glass half full” person, Shariff was optimistic that Canada will get there and suggested that it should already be looking beyond open banking to open data - moving into areas such as health information.

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