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FDATA North America Submits Letter to House Financial Services Committee on Consumer Financial Data Privacy

May 21, 2020, Washington, DC – Today, FDATA North America submitted a letter to the U.S. House Financial Services Committee on consumer financial data privacy. In the letter, FDATA North America highlights that, as the leading trade association advocating for consumer-permissioned third-party access to financial data globally, the most effective way to ensure data privacy is to give consumers and small businesses the tools to control their financial data. 

Image result for paperclip iconFDATA North America Letter on Consumer Financial Data Privacy

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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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FDATA North America Submits Letters to Canadian and U.S. Governments on the Importance of Fintech and Aggregation as the COVID-19 Pandemic Continues

FDATA North America Submits Letters to Canadian and U.S. Governments on Importance of Fintech and Aggregation as the COVID-19 Pandemic Continues

March 26, 2020, Washington, DC – Today, FDATA North America submitted letters to Canada’s Departments of Finance and Innovation, Science, and Industry (ISI) and United States’ Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that underscores the value that aggregation and fintech can provide to consumers and small businesses in both countries during the global health crisis. During the pandemic, FDATA members are actively helping their customers weather the financial storm and are looking to partner with the Canadian and U.S. governments as they search for and implement policies to address the economic implications of the pandemic.

In Canada, we ask Finance and ISI to recognize that access to data has never been more important to customers and to take action to eliminate the barriers to financial data access.
Image result for paperclip iconFDATA letter to Canada’s Departments of Finance and Innovation, Science, and Industry

In the United States, we ask the CFPB for recognition that fintech constitutes critical infrastructure in the financial services landscape for consumers and small businesses during the national emergency, as recent guidance from the federal government was geared much more towards traditional financial services providers.
Image result for paperclip iconFDATA letter to the United States’ Consumer Financial Protection Bureau


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 (the Alliance for Innovative Regulation), Betterment, Envestnet Yodlee, FGS, Flinks, Intuit, Kabbage, Lendified, Mogo, Morningstsar, M Science, MX, Petal, Plaid, Questrade, Quicken Loans, Petal, Plaid, The ID Co., TransUnion, Trustly, VoPay, Wealthica and others.

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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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FDATA North America to Highlight the Need for a Legal Consumer Data Right at CFPB Data Access Symposium

February 25, 2020, Washington, DC – FDATA North America has submitted remarks to the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau (CFPB) in advance of tomorrow’s symposium on Consumer Access to Financial Records. FDATA North America’s Executive Director Steve Boms will provide remarks on the difficulty that consumers and small businesses experience in connecting their financial institution accounts with the third-party tools of their choice in the United States on both an initial and recurring basis, noting that “we believe the critical first step towards an open finance framework is the promulgation by policymakers of a consumer and small business financial data right.”

Image result for paperclip iconFDATA North America CFPB Data Access Symposium Testimony

Click here for more information on the symposium. 

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FDATA North America Statement on Clearing House Purchase of Akoya

FDATA North America Statement on Clearing House Purchase of Akoya

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

February 20, 2020, Washington, DC: Steve Boms, executive director of the Financial Data and Technology Association (FDATA) North America released the following statement regarding The Clearing House’s acquisition of Akoya:

“The Clearing House is a banking association and payments company that is owned by the world’s largest commercial banks. Its purchase of Akoya, a data aggregation firm founded by one of America’s largest investment firms, represents a significant potential threat to competition and innovation in financial services technology, as well as to consumers’ ability to obtain personalized financial services from providers they’ve selected as best suited to help them. If the new entity is allowed to consolidate and control consumer financial data, it will potentially prevent other third parties from accessing that data even if individuals and small businesses permission that access, by giving their consent for their data to be shared.

“Consumers’ and small businesses’ rights to access, use and control their financial data are threatened by this merger. FDATA North America and its members are committed to implementing consumer-centric open finance technology and services that promote financial inclusion and that improve the financial well-being of American families and small businesses. We believe this purchase will not advance either goal and serves only to underscore the need for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to assert its authority under Section 1033 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to promulgate a legal right for consumers and small businesses to control their financial data.” 


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 (the Alliance for Innovative Regulation), Betterment, Envestnet Yodlee, FGS, Flinks, Intuit, Kabbage, Lendified, Mogo, Morningstsar, M Science, MX, Petal, Plaid, Questrade, Quicken Loans, Petal, Plaid, The ID Co., TransUnion, Trustly, VoPay, Wealthica and others.

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FDATA North America Statement on Department of Finance Canada Open Banking Report

FDATA North America Statement on Department of Finance Canada Open Banking Report

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

January 31, 2020, Washington, DC – The Department of Finance Canada today released Consumer-Directed Finance: The Future of Financial Services, which is the result of more than nine months of consultation with stakeholders in the financial services and financial technology sectors. Financial Data and Technology Association (FDATA) of North America Executive Director Steve Boms issued the following statement upon release of the report:

“When announcing these consultations back in January, Finance Canada said Open Banking ‘could better serve consumers and grow businesses and markets, contributing to the growth of the Canadian economy.’ That absolutely is true and this report from the advisory committee makes that evident.

“Now we get to the ‘how.’ How can stakeholders work together to create a system that puts consumers in control while safeguarding their privacy and security and introduces competition into the market? We look forward to continuing to work with Finance Canada to create a system that empowers individuals, families, and small business owners to take control of their financial lives.

“As Finance Canada has made clear, creating an Open Banking regime is a must-do task for Canadian lawmakers. The private sector, however, does not have to wait to start implementing consumer-centric open banking technology and services. Financial institutions, including those currently restricting their customers’ ability to take advantage of third-party tools, like CIBC, the Bank of Montreal and Scotia Bank, should not wait until they are forced to comply with government demands to let consumers be in control of their own data. They should start doing so now.”

In addition to its consultations with Finance Canada, FDATA North America has published white papers for Canadian and U.S. policymakers that outline the benefits of Open Banking and provide policy and oversight recommendations for lawmakers and regulators. “Opportunities in Open Banking” for the United States is here. The Canadian paper is here. FDATA North America analysis on the report’s findings is here.

Image result for paperclip iconDepartment of Finance Canada’s Report on Consumer-Directed Finance: The Future of Financial Services 


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: The Alliance for Innovative Regulation, Betterment, Direct ID, Envestnet Yodlee, Fintech Growth Syndicate, Flinks, Intuit, Kabbage, Mogo, Morningstsar, M Science, MX, Petal, Plaid, Questrade, Quicken Loans, TransUnion, Trustly, VoPay, Wealthica and others.

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