Member Spotlight

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Member Spotlight: Questrade

Questrade: Bringing More Value to Canadians

Questrade, an FDATA North America founding member, offers Canadians simpler and more affordable ways to become financially successful and secure. Founded in 1999, the firm is now the country’s fastest growing online brokerage firm, and has been named as one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies for nine consecutive years.

While the growth in accounts is impressive, it is constrained by the fact that traditional financial institutions frequently prevent consumers and small businesses from sharing their own financial data. A system of open finance would help Questrade empower even more Canadians with the tools and opportunities to pursue their individual financial goals – providing tailored convenience while still providing the top notch security people expect from a financial services company.

Questrade is committed to the principle of financial inclusion. As part of its efforts to bring more individuals and families into the investing community, the company has worked to shine a light on a system that is normally opaque. The company has run television ads explaining how Canadians often overpay for investment fees. In the Globe and Mail, Simon Tanner, principal financial advisor with Dynamic Planning Partners in Vancouver, praised the ads, saying Questrade has “forc[ed] advisors to look at their business models and ask, ‘Am I demonstrating value for these fees?’” The company partners each year with JA Central Ontario to celebrate Financial Literacy Month by offering educational opportunities to students and recently announced a donation of one million meals to FoodBanks Canada.

Questrade has won numerous accolades for its work. In 2018 and 2019, it earned the DALBAR Seal for Service Excellence, which can only be earned after a company undergoes an audit of their customer service practices. MoneySense named the firm the best online broker for 2019.

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Member Spotlight: Wealthica

In 2015, Martin Leclair and Simon Boulet launched Montreal-based Wealthica to “challenge the status quo of financial institutions and portfolio advisers.” The company continues that mission today by helping tens of thousands of investors see all their investments on a single dashboard.

How does it work?
Wealthica automatically imports a user’s data from more than 100 Canadian investing platforms using secure application programming interfaces, or APIs. Wealthica syncs portfolio information daily, after markets close. After only five years in business, the company is tracking about $5 billion in assets.

For families, Wealthica offers a tool where groups of individuals can work together to expand their wealth and track financial goals. The family dashboard and report card can be used to help assess the impact a certain event will have on a family’s investments, for example.

To protect consumers, Wealthica offers two factor authentication as well as email notification when logging in from a new location. The company also encrypts all financial information, and Sitelock, a global leader in website security, verifies Wealthica site security every day to protect users from spam, viruses, and scams.

The remarkable thing?
Wealthica’s basic platform is free to consumers (it also is ad-free) no matter how many accounts a user tracks. That makes the platform ideal for investors who are just starting to build their wealth, or who are unfamiliar with the market.

Unfortunately, as CEO Boulet explained in this 2017 interview, “Most of the financial institutions in Canada are closed and don’t offer a simple way to share your financial data with third party applications without sharing your credentials. For most of the institutions we have to ask the user for their credentials and retrieve their data through web scraping.”

A formal Open Finance system in Canada would make it easier for investors to connect and aggregate the data from all their investing accounts into Wealthica’s dashboard and give more control to the investor over their own financial data.

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Member Spotlight: Mogo

Founded in 2003, Mogo is Vancouver-based financial technology company that offers a finance app that empowers consumers with simple solutions to help them get in control of their financial wellness.

Financial wellness continues to be the number one source of stress across all demographics and it is highest among millennials. At Mogo, users can sign up for a free MogoAccount in only three minutes. This account gets them access to six products: free credit score monitoring, identity fraud protection, digital spending account with Platinum Prepaid Visa® Card (the first product of its kind designed to help Canadians get better control over their spending while earning best-in-class cashback and having a positive impact on the environment), a digital mortgage experience, the MogoCrypto account (the first product within MogoWealth, which enables the buying and selling of bitcoin), and access to smart consumer credit products through MogoMoney.

Today the company serves over one million Canadians. The Digital Policy Institute has named the company one of Canada’s top 50 fintech companies.

Mogo’s goal is to make it easy for consumers to move away from bad money habits and begin adopting the habits that will actually help them achieve their money goals. This includes in-app educational content called “Money Class” that walks the user through the keys to each habit in a simple and engaging way. The redesigned mobile app was launched in December 2019 to give consumers a fuller view of their financial health. Through the app, consumers can:

  • Monitor and protect their credit score;
  • Control their spending;
  • Borrow responsibly; and
  • Save and invest.

When the redesigned app launched founder David Feller noted, “There is a financial health crisis in Canada and, while technology has improved our lives in many ways, unfortunately it has also made it easier than ever to overspend, leaving the majority of Canadians in debt and financially stressed as they find themselves further away from achieving their goal of financial freedom.”

Mogo’s efforts to help consumers get in control of their financial wellness are often hampered by the current banking environment in Canada and consumers’ perception and the reality of the difficulty in moving all or part of their financial needs from their current provider, typically a traditional financial institution, to a competitor, often a fintech. Consumers have come to expect a time-consuming process that creates a real and substantial roadblock for consumers to find the most well-suited financial products and services for their particular circumstances.

A well-architectured, consumer-directed finance system would provide the means to build a more confident, independent and financially free generation of Canadians who will jump at the opportunity for financial self-improvement, education and freedom.

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Member Spotlight: VoPay

VoPay: Democratizing Financial Services for Everyone

VoPay, whose mission is to digitize online bank account payments with speed, transparency and traceability, joined FDATA North America because it believes creating connections between financial institutions and global digital enterprises will “democratize financial services for everyone.”

If that sounds revolutionary, that’s because it is. What it means is that more people, including those previously absent from the traditional financial system, will be able to get loans, plan for retirement, or simply pay their bills online. Entrepreneurs and businesses will be better able to manage supply chains, or create new marketplaces.

VoPay already offers these options, but according to Philipp Postrehovsky, establishing open finance and open banking frameworks across North American will help ensure the company continues to offer payment solutions that provide the greatest level of value and security to its expanding ecosystem of next generation online payments.

While VoPay is committed to bringing financial technology solutions to more individuals and businesses, it also is dedicated to ensuring those solutions are secure. For example, in order to lessen the risk of fraud and identity theft, VoPay generates and shares a “token” between a consumer and a merchant. Because that token is unique, it is not usable for any other transaction. A traditional financial institution might share a consumer’s bank account information—numbers that, even when encrypted—are far less secure.

Information is important in a democracy, and another thing we—and policymakers and the media—love about VoPay is that the company works diligently to help individuals who wouldn’t know the difference between APIs and tokens if you offered them a million (Canadian!) dollars understand how the ecosystem works. Their blog and monthly newsletter are must reads for anyone struggling to understand the rapidly-changing fintech space and how it will be benefit consumers.

Check it out here. Understanding the prospect, and promise, of open banking and open finance will be a lot easier when you do.

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