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Member Spotlight: AIR

 

The Alliance for Innovative Regulation, or AIR, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing financial regulation into the 21st century. What would consumers and small businesses have to gain from this move? According to AIR, improved financial inclusion, better consumer protection, lower rates of financial crime, and continuous innovation that helps them save and earn more and that drives economic expansion.

AIR generates thought leadership, connects and educates innovators and regulators, and runs a policy accelerator to test and demonstrate new regulatory technologies. It also works directly with regulators throughout the world to support government innovation efforts.

Sound financial regulation is particularly important during times of economic distress, like the coronavirus pandemic, when businesses and families are doing more with less and are rapidly shifting to digital channels. AIR CEO Jo Ann Barefoot says, “The pandemic has packed a decade’s worth of innovation and technology adoption into a few short months, in every field including finance and financial regulation. It opens an opportunity for very rapid progress toward regulatory strategies that can work better, cheaper and faster, all at once.”

During the COVID crisis, AIR hosted two Save Small Business Hackathons to accelerate the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan application process by helping banks calculate, track, and report on requirements for loan forgiveness for the PPP. More recently, AIR ran a techsprint examining how to curtail use of cryptocurrency to purchase child sexual abuse material (CSAM) online. The participating teams of engineers, financial companies, and child advocates will present proposed solutions to FinCEN in December.

CEO Barefoot has explained how improving financial regulation can spur an economic recovery after this crisis. “Regulation may not be sexy, but the rules we create to enforce laws carry a massive economic cost,” Barefoot said In an op-ed in The Hill in May 2020. Barefoot. “Estimates are that federal regulations alone cost $2 trillion annually. Not only is that comparable in cost to the recently passed stimulus bill, but it’s also equivalent to 10 percent of total U.S. GDP.”

AIR Cofounder David Ehrich notes, “Regulation is the aperture through which all financial innovation has to pass. We need to get it right.” As part of that effort, AIR issued a Regtech Manifesto in July, seeking public comment on why and how to modernize the regulatory system. The organization also hosts a podcast, Barefoot Innovation, which explores better solutions for financial consumers at the intersection of technology innovation and regulation with regtech and fintech CEOs, lawmakers, regulators, bankers, and academics.

“A critical trend in financial innovation is the global move toward open finance, grounded in assuring that consumers can use their financial data to advance their own goals and widen their choices, with confidence that it will be secure,” says Barefoot, who was inducted into the CB Insights Fintech Hall of Fame in November. “In the US, 2021 will be pivotal as the CFPB works through how to shape a data landscape that protects consumers and also enables innovation to flourish.”

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FDATA North America Outlines the Negative Consequences of Mandating a 90-Day Reauthentication Requirement

November 17, 2020, Washington, DC – In response to ongoing discussions by large U.S. financial institutions and some policymakers to impose a mandatory 90-day reauthentication requirement for customers wishing to utilize third-party financial tools, the Financial Data and Technology Association (FDATA) of North America today released a paper that outlines the detrimental impact this requirement would have based on the real-world experience of consumers in the European Union and United Kingdom whose access to financial technology tools is hindered by a similar requirement.

FDATA North America provides insight into how a mandatory 90-day reauthentication requirement has had the following impacts in other markets:

  • Resulted in the percent of customers no longer able to access a financial technology tool spiking from 6.6 percent prior to the implementation of the mandate to 44 percent afterwards;
  • Forced a frustrating experience upon the customer that can result in them abandoning use of an otherwise valuable tool as their connection to the tool repeatedly breaks; and
  • Imposed onerous requirements for customers who have accounts with multiple institutions to reauthenticate with each different institution every 90 days to access tools of their choice.

Mandating reauthentication events at least once every 90 days harms customers by aggravating their experience and unnecessarily hindering marketplace competition. The goal of an open finance system is to provide customers with control over their own financial data such that they can choose the products and services that best suit their needs. FDATA North America asserts that full customer control of financial data is the single best way to ensure good stewardship of that data.

Image result for paperclip iconFDATA North America Paper on the Negative Consequences of Mandating a 90-Day Reauthentication Requirement

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Member Spotlight: APImetrics

 

Headquartered in Seattle, FDATA North America member APImetrics offers the fintech industry’s only intelligent, analytics-driven API performance solution built specifically for the enterprise. By interfacing with all current and legacy API protocols, APImetrics helps companies to know if their APIs are performing as designed. Clients include Microsoft, Philips Signify, leading global banks, and mobile telephone carriers.

Still wondering what an API is? APImetrics has the answer (of course).

According to a company blog post, the term application programming interface (API) was first used in 1968, but meant something a bit different than it does today since in 1968 there was no World Wide Web. Regardless of its evolution, APIs make programming – any kind of programming, according to APImetrics – easier by abstracting out the details of what goes on at both sides of request/response pair. (A request/response pair could be a lot of things, but the easiest way to think about it might be a financial transaction – where there are two sides, both making decisions.)

In today’s world, APIs can tell us a lot about how individuals use everything from social media to e-commerce websites to online banking applications.

And, as APImetrics explained, APIs also can tell us a lot about the spread of viruses like COVID-19. The website covid19api.com, for example, provides an API that allows users easy access to a range of up-to-date data about the virus and how it is traveling.

Even if this information would have been available a century ago during the 1918 influenza outbreak, it would have taken years to assemble. As APImetrics said, “In the past, the required information might have been hidden away in paper documents stored in a filing cabinet somewhere. Whether the information was needed by an organization or someone from outside, getting hold of it was often a slow and unreliable process. Even when information eventually started to be stored electronically, finding it was still often a frustrating and time-consuming experience. But now with the advent of the API, organizations can provide a structured way for users to discover and consume easily, conveniently, and quickly the exact information they need.”

And how would Open Finance improve the data consumers, small businesses, and financial institutions can derive from APIs? CEO David O’Neill responds:

“There are two parts to that. The first is by making sure that the APIs themselves work as documented. There is nothing more frustrating or worse for an eco-system than not being able to get the APIs to actually work in the first place.

“The second is to ensure that they enable that eco-system with consistent, accurate, and fast data that can help create the next generation of financial services. The explosion in open banking isn’t just about making it easier to access services; it’s about creating new services that build on what we have. We have had taxis for over a century, but Uber and Lyft are new. With open banking, the ENTIRE financial service sector benefits when the next ‘Uber of finance’ appears.”

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FDATA North America Statement on the CFPB ANPR on Dodd-Frank 1033

FDATA North America Statement on the CFPB ANPR on Dodd-Frank 1033

Contact: Kerrie Rushton, (202) 365-6338, krushton@allonadvocacy.com

October 22, Washington, DC – Steve Boms, Executive Director of the Financial Data and Technology Association (FDATA) of North America released the following statement regarding the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) on Section 1033 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act:

“This day certainly is a welcome one for consumers and small businesses. Congress gave the CFPB the power a decade ago to ensure Americans have a uniform right to access and use their financial data however they see fit, and today the Bureau is a step closer to asserting that right. If adopted, a rule implementing Section 1033 of the Dodd-Frank Act would be a major building block toward a consumer-centric open finance ecosystem in the United States.

“In any open finance system, consumer protection and security are paramount, which is why every market globally with an open finance framework has a legally binding data right as its centerpiece. We encourage the CFPB to fully utilize its Section 1033 authority to create a consumer financial data right to allow consumers and small businesses to have unrestricted access to technology-based tools that can help them improve their financial wellbeing.”


ABOUT FDATA NORTH AMERICA

FDATA was heavily involved in the UK Open Banking Working Group in 2015. In 2016, the working group’s output was published by Her Majesty’s Treasury as the Open Banking Standard. FDATA North America was founded in early 2018. Its members collectively provide tens of millions of consumers in Canada, the United States and Mexico with aggregation-based tools to better manage their finances. Existing FDATA North America members include: air (Alliance for Innovative Regulation), API Metrics, Betterment, Direct ID, Envestnet Yodlee, EQ Bank, Experian, Fintech Growth Syndicate, Fiserv, Flinks, Interac, Intuit, Kabbage, Mogo, Morningstar, M Science, MX, Petal, Plaid, Questrade, Quicken Loans, TransUnion, Trustly, ValidFi, VoPay, Wealthica, Xero, and others.

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FDATA North America Options for Governance of Customer-Directed Finance in Canada

FDATA North America Options for Governance of Customer-Directed Finance in Canada

Earlier this year, Canada’s Open Banking Advisory Committee submitted recommendations to the Minister of Finance regarding the need for a customer-directed finance regime in Canada. Quite a lot has happened since then – both globally and in the financial technology sector – but the Department of Finance has continued to consider how to deliver customer-directed finance in Canada.

As the department enters the second phase of its consultative process, FDATA North America provided several suggestions that should act as a guide for the deployment of a successful open finance regime, gleaned from experience in other markets.

FDATA North America’s suggested governance models note that the core of any successful framework is a customer data right – and that only government can implement this open finance tenet, and that it is the foundation of every successful customer-directed finance framework globally. The document warns that a customer-directed finance model that defers decisions around data rights to industry results in an ecosystem in which incumbents are further empowered to determine how much control their customers may have over their data – to the detriment of competition, innovation and financial access.

As such, the document proposes governance models with the strong recommendation that industry alone cannot deliver customer-directed finance but can provide technology solutions that meet the policy standards set by government.

Image result for paperclip iconFDATA North America’s suggested governance models


ABOUT FDATA NORTH AMERICA
FDATA was heavily involved in the UK Open Banking Working Group in 2015. In 2016, the working group’s output was published by Her Majesty’s Treasury as the Open Banking Standard. FDATA North America was founded in early 2018. Its members collectively provide tens of millions of consumers in Canada, the United States and Mexico with aggregation-based tools to better manage their finances. Existing FDATA North America members include: air (Alliance for Innovative Regulation), API Metrics, Betterment, Direct ID, Envestnet Yodlee, EQ Bank, Experian, Fintech Growth Syndicate, Fiserv, Flinks, Interac, Intuit, Kabbage, Mogo, Morningstsar, M Science, MX, Petal, Plaid, Questrade, Quicken Loans, TransUnion, Trustly, ValidiFI, VoPay, Wealthica, Xero, and others.

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FDATA North America Submits Comments to US FDIC on Standard Setting and Voluntary Certification Models for Third-Party Providers

FDATA North America Submits Comments to US FDIC on its Request for Information on Standard Setting and Voluntary Certification Models and Third-Party Providers of Technology and Other Services

September 21, 2020, Washington, DC – Today, FDATA North America submitted comments to the US Federal Deposit and Insurance Corporation (FDIC) in response to its Request for Information (RFI) on standard setting and voluntary certification models and third-party providers of technology and other services.

In its comments, FDATA North America praises the FDIC for its support of innovative technology and efforts to enable FDIC-supervised banks and savings associations to utilize technology that will provide their customers with tools and services that can be transformative to their financial health. FDATA North America Executive Director Steve Boms noted that “as the trade association representing firms that currently partner with many small and community banks to provide critical financial wellness tools to millions of Americans, we believe that streamlining the ability for banks to partner with third-party providers will be critical to the survival of small and community banks in the United States and to the financial wellness of their customers.”

Image result for paperclip iconFDATA North America FDIC RFI Submission

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Member Spotlight: Trustly

 

Today, our salaries are deposited straight into our bank accounts and we shop online, from merchants all around the world. So why is it so hard to pay straight from our bank accounts? This is where Trustly comes in.

The fintech, which now has operations in Canada and Australia in addition to the United States and Europe, is building an Online Banking Payments network that bypasses the card networks, letting consumers make and receive simple and safe payments to/from merchants by signing in to their online banking. With support for more than 7,600 banks, Trustly enables merchants to accept payments from roughly 600 million consumers across Europe and North America.

Trustly serves many of the world’s most prominent merchants within e-commerce, financial services, gaming, media, telecom and travel, which all benefit from increased consumer conversion and reduced operational, fraud and chargeback costs.

In the United States, for instance, Trustly partners with AT&T to help subscribers pay their monthly bills, and with Dell to help customers purchase computers online, in both cases with a simple and safe user experience — no card or registration needed. At the same, AT&T and Dell increase their payment approval rates while reducing their payment acceptance costs and eliminating chargebacks. These are just two examples of how Trustly is helping large North American merchants circumvent the limitations of the card networks.

In Europe, Trustly helps PayPal users top up their wallets, and Norwegian Air travelers pay for plane tickets directly from their bank accounts. And, last year, Trustly established a partnership with the Help to Help Foundation, which grants scholarships to university students in East Africa. Using Trustly’s Direct Debit service to digitize recurring payments and simplify the management of donations from monthly donors, Help to Help has reduced churn, allowing a greater portion of donations to go toward scholarships. Help to Help founder Malin Cronqvist said the organization now saves two to three percent of donations in fees.

Trustly joined FDATA North America to bring more opportunities like these to more consumers in the United States and Canada. “We look forward to helping U.S.and Canadian consumers pay their favorite merchants and billers with our Online Banking Payments service, a modern, simple and safe alternative to cards,” said Alex Gonthier, CEO of Trustly Inc.

The company now has more than 400 employees, 10 offices across the Americas and Europe, and processed more than 100 million payments last year.

In February 2020, Trustly was recognized as Best Payment Initiation Service Provider(PISP)/Account Information Service Provider (AISP) at the Merchant Payment Ecosystem Awards, which honor the achievements of companies in the European merchant payments ecosystem. The PISP AISP award goes to the company “that most efficiently brings open banking services to the merchant community, and provides the best customer experience.”

Leon Dhaene, Chairman of the MPE Awards, explained why Trustly was chosen. “Make e-commerce simple again. It could have been the slogan of a politician, but it is essential if you want to bring potential customers to effectively buy over the internet,” said Dhaene. “The Jury appreciated the fact that Trustly delivers fast, simple, and secure payments in only three steps.”

Simplicity and security – just what consumers can expect with Open Banking in North America.

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Member Spotlight: EQ Bank

EQ Bank is the digital banking platform offered by Equitable Bank, Canada’s Challenger Bank™. Equitable employs more than 900 Canadians and is now the country’s ninth largest independent Schedule I bank. Launched in 2016, EQ Bank provides state-of-the-art digital banking services, including the Savings Plus Account which reimagines banking by offering an everyday high interest rate, plus the flexibility of a checking account, with free transactions, no everyday banking fees, no minimum balances, fast, cheap, and fully transparent international money transfers, and more—all from one account.

CEO and President Andrew Moor has said, “Making smart, future-ready decisions to better the way Canadians bank has always been our primary focus. Cloud-based banking is just one way we’re challenging the status quo in order to bring smarter money solutions to our customers.”

EQ Bank also is challenging the status quo by using various social platforms, including its own blog, to educate its customers and the broader Canadian public about everything from how interest is taxed on a joint account to strategies for increasing personal savings to buying a home.

The blog provides practical, easy-to-digest tips like explaining why consumers are better off when they can link their accounts – a process that would be made much easier with the implementation of an open banking regime in Canada. In a November 2019 blog post, EQ Bank explained, “Linking your account not only streamlines the application process, but it’s the easiest way to start adding funds to your account. When you sign in to your new account for the first time, you’ll already be linked to another bank account; this means you can transfer money and start earning high interest on that amount immediately.”

The bank has regularly spoken about its commitment to bringing open banking to Canada in order to drive innovation and to serve the changing needs of its customers. Equitable CIO Dan Dickinson was the first bank representative to address the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce on the topic of Open Banking. Equitable Bank is pushing for Open Banking so that Canadians at all banks can have better options and an improved customer experience.

In September 2020, EQ Bank announced that it had reached more than $4 billion in deposits. (The company has more than 150,000 customers.) In the first three months of the coronavirus pandemic, sign-ups for new accounts tripled. “The need for fair, well-valued banking products and a complete understanding of one’s financial picture has never been more important,” according to Dickinson.

EQ Bank has received multiple awards for its efforts to provide outstanding service and innovative solutions to Canadians. It recently was awarded the Celent Model Bank Awards, which recognizes financial institutions as “model banks” for their outstanding technology initiatives that demonstrate clear business benefits, innovation, and technology or implementation excellence. The company also received one of Ratehub.ca’s inaugural Personal Finance Awards. Rathhub recognized the EQ Bank Savings Plus Account as one of the country’s top high-interest savings accounts.

EQ Bank joined FDATA North America in 2020. As EQ Bank President Moor has said, “Open banking will transform and modernize our industry enormously, benefitting consumers, businesses, and the economy alike. Innovation is in EQ Bank’s DNA, and our recent move to the cloud means we’re not only ready for the future of banking in Canada, we’re driving it.”

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FDATA North America Submits Comments to US OCC in Response to its ANPR on Digital Activities

FDATA North America Submits Comments to US OCC in Response to its ANPR on Digital Activities

July 29, 2020, Washington, DC – Today, FDATA North America submitted comments to the US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) in response to its Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) regarding national bank and federal savings associations digital activities.

In its comments, FDATA North America praises the OCC for recognizing that the US banking system is not “frozen in time” and that innovation and safety and soundness are not mutually exclusive principles. The association also notes that as the OCC attempts to strike the right balance between these principles, it should observe the experiences of other markets around the world and create an open finance ecosystem that has a consumer’s right to access and share their own data as its centerpiece.

Image result for paperclip iconFDATA North America OCC ANPR Submission

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FDATA North America Welcomes Two New Members

FDATA North America Welcomes Two New Members

Contact: Kerrie Rushton, (202) 365-6338, krushton@allonadvocacy.com

July 28, 2020, Washington, DC – The Financial Data and Technology Association (FDATA) of North America today announced it has added two new members, boosting the organization’s roster of member companies and organizations united behind the notion that consumers and small businesses should have full utility over their own financial data.

“Innovation in financial services is powered by consumers and small businesses granting permission for access and use of their data, often in conjunction with cutting edge machine learning and other data analytics technologies that enable better financial access and inclusion,” said FDATA North America Executive Director Steve Boms. “As consumers and businesses continue to face a deteriorating economic landscape because of COVID-19, it is critical to maintain competition in the market for these data-driven financial services. Equitable Bank and Xero are committed to that mission, and we’re excited to welcome them to our growing list of advocates supporting an open finance system in the United States and Canada.”

The following organizations recently joined FDATA North America:

  • Equitable (EQ) Bank has grown to become Canada’s ninth largest independent Schedule I bank through its proven branchless approach and customer service focus in providing residential lending, commercial lending, and savings solutions. EQ Bank, the digital banking platform offered by Equitable Bank, provides state-of-the-art digital banking services.
  • Xero is the emerging global leader of online accounting software that connects small businesses to their advisors and other services. Xero provides business owners with real-time visibility of their financial position and performance in a way that’s simple, smart and secure. For accountants, Xero forges a trusted relationship with clients through online collaboration.

These firms discussed the importance of FDATA North’s mission to advance data access and open banking in North America:

  • Equitable Bank’s Chief Information Officer Dan Dickinson: “In joining FDATA, we’re furthering our commitment to the industry, our customers and consumers more broadly to make banking better for everyone. We have a long-standing focus on the need for robust open banking practices in Canada and this partnership is another way we’re gaining insights and helping to move the needle on greater access to financial data for all.”
  • Xero Partnerships Manager Jon Bellamy: “Xero is committed to improving the environment for small businesses. Open Banking is a critical aspect of that, aiding their digital transformation. By joining FDATA we will be able to plan for important regulation and have a stronger industry voice as we represent the interests of our customers.”

Existing FDATA North America members include: air (Alliance for Innovative Regulation), API Metrics, Betterment, Direct ID, Envestnet Yodlee, Equifax, Experian, Fintech Growth Syndicate (FGS), Fiserv, Flinks, Interac, Intuit, Kabbage, Mogo, Morningstsar, M Science, MX, Petal, Plaid, Questrade, Quicken Loans, TransUnion, Trustly, VoPay, Wealthica and others.


ABOUT FDATA NORTH AMERICA
FDATA was heavily involved in the UK Open Banking Working Group in 2015. In 2016, the working group’s output was published by Her Majesty’s Treasury as the Open Banking Standard. FDATA North America was founded in early 2018. Its members collectively provide tens of millions of consumers in Canada, the United States and Mexico with aggregation-based tools to better manage their finances.

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