Canada’s government has announced the appointment of a director from the financial services practice of professional services giant PwC as the country’s first open banking lead.
Abraham Tachjian was named today (22 March) in the role, which sees him charged with leading the implementation of the country’s system for open banking, which is often referred to in Canada using the term ‘consumer-directed finance’.
Canada’s progress in developing a legal and regulatory framework for open banking – which enables consumers to transfer their financial data between financial institutions and accredited third parties such as fintech companies in a secure and consumer-friendly way – has significantly lagged countries such as the UK, whose Open Banking Implementation Entity was set up more than five years ago.
Pressure had been mounting for an appointment, which comes more than seven months after the government released the final report by its Advisory Committee on Open Banking that proposed January 2023 as the ‘ambitious but achievable’ target date for launching open banking in the country. Tachjian has been PwC Canada’s director for digital banking for more than two years and supported the work of the Advisory Committee in this role.
In his new position he will be supported by a secretariat within the Department of Finance and also ‘by external experts, as required’, according to today’s announcement.
‘Made-in-Canada’ regime planned
The Advisory Committee said in its report that while the initial focus of its work was ‘to determine whether open banking has sufficient value to merit the implementation of a system, it is clear that Canadians have already answered this question’.
It recommended that the government move forward quickly to implement a ‘hybrid, made-in-Canada system’. This means implementation should be neither exclusively government-led nor industry-led.
‘Government should avoid being too prescriptive at the start as this could deter innovation, or prescribing too little which could lead to an inefficient market or poor consumer outcomes,’ the report said. The authors proposed a two-phase approach with the initial phase to include the design and implementation of the system. The second phase would involve the system’s evolution and ongoing administration.
The report said the government should designate an open banking lead who would be responsible for convening industry, government and consumers in designing the system. The authors recommended the lead conclude design elements within nine months of appointment.
Today’s announcement confirms that Tachjian’s mandate is to develop a ‘made-in-Canada’ regime based on the recommendations in the Advisory Committee’s report.
He will ‘engage with industry, regulators, and consumer representatives to design and implement key pillars of the open banking system, including common rules and an accreditation framework for open banking participants’.
Banking, legal and technology aspects
Michelle Beyo, a board member at non-profit advocacy organisation Open Banking Initiative Canada (OBIC), was among the panellists at a Global Government Fintech webinar last week (15 March), during which she highlighted the importance of the role (our ‘Open Banking and Open Finance: What Role – And Benefits – For Governments?’ webinar is available to view online).
Responding to today’s announcement, OBIC said in an online post that its board and members ‘looked forward to working alongside the rest of the Canadian ecosystem in continuing to help open banking in Canada move forward.’
The Department of Finance said Tachjian would ‘bring a comprehensive approach to the development of an open banking system in Canada that addresses the banking, technology and legal aspects together’.
He will, the announcement set out, ‘engage with industry, regulators, and consumer representatives to design and implement key pillars of the open banking system, including common rules and an accreditation framework for open banking participants’.
Prior to joining PwC, Tachijan was one of the founders and head of operational risk at Mox, a digital bank backed by Standard Chartered (SC) in Hong Kong. Before that he was director for digital banking at SC in Singapore and legal counsel for RBC Capital Markets in Toronto.
=> Global Government Fintech’s dedicated open banking / open finance section <=
‘Canada unveils “ambitious but achievable” open banking plan’ – our news story (13 Aug 2021) on the government’s release of the Advisory Committee’s report that proposed January 2023 as the ‘ambitious but achievable’ target date for launching an open banking system
‘Canada open banking review to focus on data security’ – our news story (14 February 2020) on the first phase the Advisory Committee’s review
WATCH OUR WEBINAR
Global Government Fintech’s webinar, ‘Open Banking and Open Finance: What Role – And Benefits – For Governments?’, was held on 15 March 2022, with the support of knowledge partner Microsoft. You can watch the 75-minute webinar via our dedicated event page.