The Fintech industry in Canada might be growing at a slower pace than markets in the US, Australia, and Africa, but it still holds a lot of potential. Statista projected that Fintech's Digital Assets market in Canada will grow by 3.86% (2024-2028), resulting in a market volume of US$32.03bn in 2028. In 2021, there were more than 2021 active startups in Canada. 

As Canadian Fintech companies continue to grow and expand operations. It is essential to keep an eye on the regulatory conditions of the industry, especially for new industries that are looking to protect their profit from sanctions and their brand's positive reputation. Just recently, Binance, on its way to being a household name in the DeFi and crypto world, was slammed with $4.4 million in Canada for AML lapses. Fintechs need to be regulated, and compliance is a minefield that needs to be navigated with tact. 

Let us discuss the regulatory compliance for FinTech startups in Canada.


Why Fintechs Need Compliance Regulations

In Fintech, regulatory compliance entails following rules set by financial regulatory bodies to ensure that operations are conducted legally and ethically. This includes activities that include data protection and consumer rights to anti-money laundering (AML) measures and financial reporting.

Regulatory compliance is necessary for the sustainable growth and success of Fintech startups. As fintechs continue to innovate internet technology to provide financial services, they will unavoidably deal with sensitive data and significant monetary transactions. Hence,  a need for regulatory compliance for Fintech startups in Canada if they will survive the market.


An Overview of Canada's Regulatory Environment for Fintechs

Fintech companies are not subject to the jurisdiction of a single Canadian regulatory body, either at the federal or provincial levels. Various regulatory agencies, based on the services they offer, will have jurisdiction over them.


Key Financial Regulatory Bodies In Canada

Below are the important financial regulatory bodies in Canada:


1. Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC)

The Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) is responsible for ensuring compliance with Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and anti-terrorist financing regulations. Fintech companies are required to register with FINTRAC and adhere strictly to its reporting and record-keeping mandates.

FINTRAC collects and analyses financial intelligence to detect, prevent, and deter money laundering and terrorist financing activities. Compliance with FINTRAC regulations is essential for Fintech firms in Canada to operate legally and uphold the integrity of the financial system.


2. Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI)

The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) regulates and supervises financial institutions in Canada to ensure their stability and soundness. OSFI provides guidelines specifically tailored for Fintech companies that offer banking services, ensuring they adhere to regulatory standards and contribute to the overall stability of the financial sector. 

Compliance with OSFI guidelines is crucial for Fintech firms to operate within the legal framework and maintain trust among stakeholders.


3. Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA)

The Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) is an umbrella organisation that includes provincial and territorial securities regulators across Canada. Its primary role is to ensure transparent and fair market practices within the securities industry. 

Compliance with CSA regulations is essential for Fintech companies involved in securities trading or investment activities. These regulations are designed to uphold market integrity, protect investors, and promote confidence in the Canadian capital markets. Adhering to CSA guidelines helps Fintech firms navigate regulatory requirements and maintain credibility in the financial services sector.


4. Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC)

The Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) oversees investment dealers and trading activities within Canada's debt and equity markets. As a regulatory authority, IIROC sets and enforces standards for Fintech firms engaged in providing investment services. These standards aim to ensure market integrity, protect investors, and maintain confidence in the Canadian financial markets. 

Compliance with IIROC regulations is critical for Fintech companies to operate legally and responsibly while offering investment services in Canada.


5. Canadian Payments Association (CPA)

The Canadian Payments Association (CPA) plays a critical role in setting and enforcing rules and standards for payments and clearing systems throughout Canada. These regulations are particularly relevant for Fintech companies that offer payment services, including transactions involving electronic funds transfers, direct deposits, and other payment mechanisms. 

By complying with CPA standards, Fintech firms ensure secure and efficient payment processing, contributing to the overall reliability and integrity of Canada's financial infrastructure. Adherence to CPA regulations is essential for Fintech companies to operate within legal boundaries and maintain trust among stakeholders in the payments industry.


6. Competition Bureau Canada

The Competition Bureau Canada is responsible for monitoring and enforcing competition laws across various sectors to ensure fair competition and protect consumers. For Fintech companies operating in Canada, the Competition Bureau plays a crucial role in overseeing market activities and addressing competition-related issues. This includes scrutinising mergers and acquisitions that could potentially lessen competition, investigating anti-competitive practices, and promoting fair pricing and innovation in the marketplace.


7. Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is responsible for managing tax administration and compliance in Canada. This includes overseeing the collection of federal taxes and ensuring businesses, including those in the Fintech sector, adhere to tax laws and regulations.

For Fintech companies operating in Canada, compliance with CRA regulations is essential to fulfilling tax obligations, such as corporate income tax, goods and services tax (GST), payroll taxes, and other applicable taxes. The CRA provides guidance, administers tax credits and incentives, and conducts audits to verify compliance with tax laws. 

Complying with CRA regulations helps Fintech firms avoid penalties, fines, and legal issues related to tax non-compliance. It also contributes to the overall financial health of the business by ensuring accurate financial reporting and tax planning strategies.


8. Securities Commissions of Provinces and Territories in Canada

In Canada, each province and territory has its own securities commission or regulator responsible for overseeing securities markets and regulating investment-related activities within their jurisdiction. These commissions play a crucial role in ensuring investor protection, market integrity, and compliance with securities laws.

Compliance with the regulations set forth by securities commissions is essential for fintech companies offering securities or investment-related services in Canada. Each commission may have specific rules, guidelines, and registration requirements that Fintech firms must comply with. This includes regulations related to securities offerings, trading activities, investment advice, and disclosures.

Securities commissions also handle enforcement actions against violations of securities laws, conduct investigations, and provide guidance to market participants. They work collaboratively through the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) to harmonize regulations and promote consistent standards across the country.


Key Fintech Regulatory Laws In Canada

The below regulatory laws are the regulatory compliance for Fintech startups in Canada:

1. Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTF Act)

This federal law tackles money laundering and terrorist financing. It requires certain FinTech businesses, like Money Service Businesses (MSBs), to register with the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) and implement Know Your Client (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) programs.


2. Retail Payment Activities Act (RPAA) and Retail Payment Activities Regulations

These govern payment service providers (PSPs) offering specific services like account holding, payment initiation, or money transmission. The RPAA, along with its regulations, outlines licensing requirements, consumer protection measures, and security standards for PSPs.


3. Canadian Securities Laws

These laws, administered by the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA), regulate securities offerings and trading. Fintech businesses involved in cryptocurrency trading, initial coin offerings (ICOs), or security-like tokens may need to comply with these regulations, depending on the specific offering.


4. Provincial Consumer Protection Legislation

Each province has its consumer protection laws that apply to Fintech businesses interacting with consumers in that province. The Provincial Consumer Protection Legislation governs aspects like online contracting, fair practices, and disclosure requirements.


5. Digital Charter Implementation Act, 2022 (Bill C-27)

On April 24, 2023, the House of Commons of Canada passed Government Bill C-27, also referred to as the Bill for the Digital Charter Implementation Act 2022. On the same day, the bill was referred to the Standing Committee on Industry and Technology. The CPPA seeks to protect people's data rights and safeguard Canadians' privacy. If Bill C-27 is passed, the present Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) will be replaced by the CPPA.


Ways Fintech Startups Can Navigate Compliance Regulations in Canada

Fintech startups in Canada comply with the regulatory requirements by following these steps:


1. Staying Informed 

Concerned staff and executives should exert all effort to stay updated on key information and changes in compliance and regulatory efforts, as well as innovations and regtech. It is helpful to follow or regularly stay informed on changes and nations by regulatory bodies. It can also help to stay subscribed to industry-related newsletters and publications. 


2. Consulting Experts 

It will always be handy to have in-house experts or closely related and trusted experts who can help advise executives and staff on compliance and regulatory matters. They can also be guided in making new decisions that may affect compliance policies or clash with regulatory laws.


3. Implementing Compliance Programs

Fintechs should develop and enforce comprehensive measures and policies to meet specific regulatory obligations, including AML protocols, data privacy measures, and financial disclosures.


4. Engaging with Regulators

Fintech executives should maintain transparent communication with regulatory bodies to seek guidance and ensure compliance with evolving regulations.


5. Utilising Efficient Regtech Solutions 

Regtech, short for regulatory technology, refers to the use of technology to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of regulatory processes. Regtech solutions can help financial institutions automate tasks, enhance data analysis, and improve risk management practices. This can result in significant benefits, including reduced compliance costs, improved risk mitigation, and enhanced operational efficiency. 

Regtech solutions offered by Youverify are robust, easily scalable and easy to use and provide accurate results and responses.


6. Continuous Training For Employees 

Fintechs in Canada can benefit a great deal from providing ongoing training to employees on compliance protocols and measures, as well as members of compliance-related teams. This will keep them updated and sensitive to compliance concerns. 


Bottom line.

Regulatory compliance is not just a legal requirement but a critical factor for the sustainable growth and success of Fintech startups in Canada. As the industry continues to evolve and expand, navigating the regulatory landscape with tact and diligence is essential. Key regulatory bodies like FINTRAC, OSFI, CSA, IIROC, CPA, Competition Bureau, CRA, and provincial securities commissions play pivotal roles in shaping compliance requirements.

By prioritising regulatory compliance, Fintech startups in Canada not only promote the reduction of risks associated with non-compliance but also foster trust among stakeholders, uphold their reputation, and position themselves for long-term success in Canada's dynamic Fintech landscape.

As a Fintech startup in Canada, you can simplify your compliance process for your business and customers by building easy-to-use workflows creating a seamless onboarding experience for customers while staying compliant with regulations with Youverify solution. To begin your journey with Youverify, book a demo today.