Open Finance: Canada can learn from ‘implementations around the world’

Ellie Duncan
22 Jun 2023

Speakers from Equifax Canada and Portfolio+ called for more agility and governance, respectively, during the closing panel debate at Open Banking Expo Canada last week.

Michelle Beyo, chief executive officer of Finavator and president of Open Finance Network Canada, moderated the panel debate, ‘Open Finance meets Open Data – ignore it at your peril!’.

In her opening remarks, she said Open Banking is “a stepping stone in the move towards Open Finance and Open Data” and referred to a report which stated “any country that’s moving towards Open Data can realise up to 5% of GDP growth”.

Steven Thomas

Steven Thomas, CTO, Portfolio+

“What countries can we look to, to get from Open Banking, to Open Finance, Open Data and beyond?” Beyo asked the panellists, including Sandy Kyriakatos, chief data officer at Equifax Canada and Eytan Bensoussan, chief executive officer of NorthOne.

Steven Thomas, chief technology officer at Portfolio+, said he “would be looking to the implementations around the world” and cited a paper published in the UK in 2020, which steered the industry away from using the term “Open Data” and noted that “they’ve adopted the term Smart Data” to mean “consensual use of my personal data”.

Franklin Garrigues, vice president, external ecosystems at TD, said: “Some countries have enshrined it in their regulatory framework, like Brazil and Australia.”

He added that with these initatives “it’s hard to build around banking, you have to rebuild an entire stack”, but that the “fundamentals are the same, it’s about trust, consent, data sharing”.

However, Garrigues said that regulation of Open Finance “can be more tricky”, given that a regulatory body “may be entitled to regulate banks, financial companies, payments, but not utilities, not payroll providers”.

“If you look in North America, there’s no such thing as Open Finance regulation yet. Yet, you see a lot of activities that are happening and there is demand from businesses and consumers,” he added. “There are quite a few use cases already live so I would argue it’s already here, it’s a matter of looking.”

Sandy Kyriakatos

Sandy Kyriakatos, Equifax Canada

Equifax Canada’s Kyriakatos said: “We’ve understood and figured out how to be agile and innovative when it comes to using data or building models or AI… but we haven’t matched our policymaking and our regulatory pace to that. We need to look around and start to think about, can we build in agility, sandboxes?

“Can we test and learn when it comes to policy and regulation, so that can keep pace? We have this frustration in Canada that things are taking too long.

“Let’s see if we can use some of that iteration and agility in this space of policymaking.”

When asked by Beyo how important governance is, Thomas replied that it’s “extremely important”.

“Whether it’s FDX, FAPI or, frankly, I don’t really care, I just want somebody to tell me what we should be building,” he added.

“If we don’t have a governance model over what I’m building, we like to say, ‘don’t take my word for it’. I could say to my customers ‘I’m compliant’, but the second we go to do an integration, we find subtle gotchas or differences. Governance would minimise that.”

Bensoussan, whose company operates in the US, said: “The fortunate thing we’ve had working across the American landscape is that there is so much flexibility, so many options to choose from, that it really is a buyer’s market.”