The Reasons Why Toronto is Revolutionizing the Fintech Sector
Investment in financial technology (Fintech) in Canada remained strong in the third quarter of 2017, according to a new report on global investment in financial technology published by KPMG International. In terms of transactions and value volume, activity in the fintech sector in Canada fell in this period of time, but the results are heavily skewed by the purchase of 2.7 billion dollars from DH Corp., based in Toronto, which had place in the second quarter. Excluding that transaction, “Canadian fintech investment remained relatively stable” in the third quarter, according to the report. Fintech’s direct investment activity in Canada was 312 million dollars during the analyzed period. These data confirm the strong muscle offered by the sector, especially in Toronto.
Another report made at the beginning of the year ranked Toronto as the fourth excellence center in the world in fintech’s field (those companies that use information and communication technologies to create and / or offer financial services more effectively and less expensive). The study carried out by Z / Yen Group, the same organization in charge of preparing the Global Financial Centers Index (GFCI), ranked Toronto as the fifth fintech leading center in the world and the fourth fintech center with the highest growth forecast, ahead of Singapore and Hong Kong. The study examined ten predominant trends in financial services, including Brexit, the increasing concern for data protection, regulatory pressures and transparency in asset and wealth management. The survey, conducted with more than 300 respondents from around the world, also examined a number of specific areas of the fintech sector, including cybersecurity, blockchain and new payment and transaction systems. It also evaluated how different financial centers can benefit from all these technological innovations.
In recent months, a favorable scenario is being drawn for Ontario and, by extension Canada, consolidate in fintech’s global vanguard. Ontario is opening some of its regulations to give financial startups more opportunities to test new products and services in an attempt to boost the fast-growing financial technology sector. Finance Minister Charles Sousa recently presented his strategy which, according to his forecasts, will create a set of rules that will exempt companies from some requirements so they can experiment with new business models and products.
It will also launch an agency known as Ontario FinTech Accelerator Office to help startups establish themselves. “We have the evolution, the convergence of technology and financial services, we see that it is happening all over the world, and Ontario has become an attraction for this ecosystem because we have great talent”, Sousa said. With an increasing number of Ontario residents moving away from traditional financial institutions to offer online services ranging from investment advice to crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin, Sousa assures that government regulators will work with companies to design the regulations that best serve the emerging industry.
A strong technology sector, a resilient financial system, a group of talents with great dynamism and low commercial costs place Toronto on Fintech’s global map. Not only the city claims to host the headquarters of major Canadian banks, it is also home to three of the sixty largest pension funds in the world and seven of the global-hedge funds’ largest managers. The figures are overwhelming. The financial sector in Canada is expected to spend 15 billion dollars in technology expenses by 2018. Toronto is the second largest financial center in North America after New York, it hosts about 12.000 financial firms and employs more than 360.000 people. Since 2010, Canada has seen more than 200 Fintech startups accumulate over 500 million dollars in financing. In this select and renowned group are world-renowned companies such as WealthSimple, SecureKey and League.
Toronto Financial Services Alliance contributed in its latest report a series of data that reinforce the importance of Ontario’s capital as a fintech’s reference center: with 50% of the 60.000 employees registered in this this sector, the Toronto area offers one of the most highly qualified labor forces among the most developed countries. TFSA also emphasizes Toronto’s characteristics as the capital of the Canadian financial services industry, accentuating some figures that illustrate its growing importance. Greater Toronto Area is also the Canadian headquarters of some of the world’s leading telecommunications and wireless operators, such as Cisco, Ericsson and Alcatel, and of leading software and data analysis companies such as HP, IBM and Microsoft. Canada has been recognized on several occasions as one of the best markets to build and test innovative FinTech solutions, and the Ontario province, in particular, offers one of the technology companies’ highest concentrations outside Silicon Valley, partly because the cheaper costs and the dynamism of the Toronto-Waterloo corridor, which along with the numerous universities in the region, represents an inexhaustible source of new engineers and developers.
This new context is generating interesting synergies that are directed in several ways. Canadians have been the first to adopt mobile payment technology thanks to a 76% smartphones adoption rate, which is expected to reach 90% in 2020. Almost 30% of smartphone users use them for payments. Between 2014 and 2016, there was a 20% increase in the number of consumers who use banking apps to check their accounts. Canadian Payments Forecast estimates that the total payments market in Canada had a value of 20.9 billion in commercial transactions and consumers worth more than 8.900 billion dollars in 2015.
According to Moneris, Canada’s biggest credit and debit payments processor, 85% of its customers have compatible terminals that accept payments through contactless debit cards, credit cards and mobile apps such as Apple Pay. Recently, Google’s mobile wallet, paid with Android, was launched in Canada in association with major banks and will allow users to pay through their smartphones. Google’s vice president of payment products, Pali Bhat, put it very well when he said, “Canada is one of the most advanced countries in terms of mobile payments availability worldwide”.
We have chosen five startups from the Fintech field in Toronto that not only represent but also help explain the phenomenon of Canada’s financial capital. Their success story is, by extension, the story of the sweet moment that Toronto lives.
Cryptiv’s Enterprise Blockchain System allows traditional companies to manage digital assets related to such blockchain models as Bitcoin and Ether. Cryptiv helps companies have access to multiple blockchain protocols (both private and public), manage private keys and give employees limited access to the company’s digital assets by means of managed portfolio accounts. Cryptiv’s model provides a safe environment for any blockchain case, so it can be safely implemented.
Flexiti Financial is a Canadian sales funding company founded back in 2013. The company helps retailers increase their profitability by offering better sales funding options than standard credit cards, with lower interest rates, longer payment terms and revolving credit. By using a mobile app and patented ID scanning technology, Flexiti Financial provides a fast, simple and immediate sales outlet for its customers’ consumers.
NexusCrowd is an investment platform that makes the most of the crowd’s power to offer investors the opportunity to co-invest along with venture capital and private capital partners in the same terms. NexusCrowd works with institutions to grant registered investors access to exclusive opportunities of private investment, which have met at least 50 percent of the funding goals. All investment opportunities in the platform are checked, structured, reported and managed by institutional partners, thus giving investors access to institutionally managed investments in all sectors, stages and values.
Paymobile is a payment platform by means of an operator that moves money for companies and communities in a fast, economic and safe way around the world. With its bank partners and Visa, Paymobile offers solutions for check replacements, remittances and online virtual payments for numerous customers, both private companies and the government itself.
SecureKey provides identity and authentication services for organizations that offer online services to consumers. It puts aside the need to store passwords by safely linking the consumer’s identifier to trusted devices, while providing consumers the option, control and convenience on how to gain access to the services they require.