Canadian SMEs need convincing about Open Banking

Ellie Duncan
29 Nov 2021

Open Banking in Canada has to be “easy” for SMEs to use and access, and it will be “a slow transition” for small businesses to become “comfortable” with Open Banking, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

Speaking on day two of Open Banking Expo Canada last week (23-24 November), Corinne Pohlmann, senior vice president, national affairs and partnerships at CFIB, told delegates: “If you build it, doesn’t mean that they will come.

“Most small businesses aren’t even aware of what Open Banking is, much less what it can do.”

She was speaking on the final panel of the Expo, titled Open Banking – the holy grail for small businesses?, which was moderated by James Bradshaw, banking reporter at The Globe & Mail.

Corinne PohlmannPohlmann (pictured) said that there is “still scepticism” among Canadian SMEs about how much data they are willing to share.

But panellist John MacKinlay, CEO of CAARY, said: “I think the market is so deprived of sources of capital that there’s an element of concession that they’re going to have to give up some data to be able to get some capital.”

He added: “I think there’s a big onus on us, as the fintech community, to demonstrate the value proposition… communicate the benefits of sharing data.

“It really does boil down to being able to demonstrate the benefit and earning increasing market trust, over time.”

Joining them on the panel was Justin Ferrabee, general manager at Trustly Canada, and Vass Bednar, executive director, Master of Public Policy in Digital Society at McMaster University.

Bednar voiced her concern about the lack of a “clear political champion”, adding that “it would be a huge miss for Canada to not deliver on Open Banking soon”.

As the panel, and the two-day virtual Confex drew to a close, MacKinley told delegates: “I would like to see the Government continue to drive towards letting the industry know this is non-negotiable and I would like to see banks taking leadership themselves.”

On the first day of the Confex, delegates heard from Canada’s former finance minister Bill Morneau about what form he believes Open Banking should take and how to maintain momentum.