Interview: 60 seconds with Senator Colin Deacon

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Open Banking Expo Magazine managed to catch a minute with Sen. Colin Deacon about his hopes and dreams for Consumer-directed finance in Canada.

 

Q: Explain what you do in less than 50 words

I am an independent Senator in Canada’s Upper Chamber representing Nova Scotia. As a former entrepreneur, I am passionate about innovation and the start-up world. In my role in the Senate, I have been a strong advocate for entrepreneurs, harnessing the digital economy, updating Canada’s privacy legislation, and ensuring global competitiveness of the Canadian economy.

Q: Where does your company sit within the Open Banking ecosystem?

As part of the Senate of Canada, my role is to legislate, investigate and represent. This means that we (i) examine and revise legislation in the Chamber, (ii) investigate topics through our committee work that are important to Canadians (producing reports like Open Banking: What it Means for You https://www.sencanada.ca/content/sen/committee/421/BANC/reports/BANC_SS-11_Report_Final_E.pdf), and (iii) represent and champion issues where our voices might make a difference.

Q: Why did you agree to speak at Open Banking Expo Canada?

Open Banking, or Consumer Directed Finance, has been a primary focus for the better of the last two years and I consider the required legislative, regulatory, policy and program move in this direction as fundamental to driving Canadian competitiveness globally, to increasing productivity and, consequently, Canadian prosperity. I was a speaker (in person!) at the Expo last year.

Q: What are the challenges to overcome before Canada can implement Open Banking (Consumer-directed Finance)?

Finance Canada needs to prioritize this file. We need to keep up the pressure. Certain parallel steps, as they relate to the Digital Charter and Digital Identity, need to be accelerated as well. Privacy legislation needs to be updated to include features such as data portability. We need to build on our strong standards to implement Digital ID nationally, among others.

Q:  How has Covid-19 impacted your Open Banking strategy, if at all?

In my views, it has amplified the necessity to move faster. Fintechs, enabled by Open Banking, could have been powerful partners in distributing COVID relief to small businesses. I continue to be troubled by the fact that the big banks were the primary delivery partner of the government. It was a missed opportunity. I am now focused on raising awareness of the need to integrate fintechs into the Government’s COVID recovery efforts.

Q: In your opinion, what timeline is the industry looking at for implementation?

I hope that we become a fast follower in this domain, but fear that the window to even that opportunity may be closing. Other countries such as the UK and Australia have embraced this framework and moved forward. I am hopeful that this all-important issue can secure the attention and support of our new Finance Minister.

Q: Finally, the million-dollar question: When and if Open Banking is implemented will it be driven by regulation, market innovation or both?

Both. Solutions to big problems are best found through market innovation and Ottawa cannot create these solutions. However, guardrails need to be put in place. An approach which takes into consideration all stakeholders – banks, co-ops, fintechs and, especially, consumers – will yield the best regulatory framework that will provide certainty to players and, I believe, allow them to thrive in this emerging and inevitable disruptive shift.

I’m glad to see private sector efforts to move the issue along, like FDX, for example. However, it is hugely important that regulators not view this as an opportunity to stand back, but embrace their responsibility to lean in. If consumer directed finance is to be implemented in a manner that benefits incumbents, new entrants and consumers, government legislators and regulators need to do their job. I think groups like the CIO Strategy Council, if embraced by government, can be very helpful partners in guiding a more agile regulatory and legislative change process.

Senator Colin Deacon will be speaking Open Banking Expo, Canada Virtual on how we make Consumer-directed finance reality in Canada. For more information and to book your virtual license to the event please visit: https://www.openbankingexpo.com/canada/