Canada’s role in the global fintech ecosystem is growing with 2021 a record year for fintech investment in the country. The promise of an open banking system by early 2023, the rise of fintech IPOs and equity rounds and an increase in collaborations across the financial services industry suggest the future of fintech in Canada is looking rosy.
Canada’s fintech scene, which includes the burgeoning hubs of Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver, is on a high after a strong 2021 that saw the highest-ever levels of fintech investment. According to KPMG, fintech investment in Canada skyrocketed to $6.4billion in 2021 with 162 deals – record highs for both deal value and deal count. While data from Fasken, one of the country’s largest law firms, revealed funding successes in the second half of 2021 with a total of 77 venture capital-backed deals over 72 companies.
Fintechs bagging notable funding last year included multiplatform banking firm Wealthsimple, cloud banking company FreshBooks, regtech Trulioo, NFT firm Dapper Labs, Bitcoin miner Blockstream and e-commerce investor Clearco – who all earned the status of ‘fintech unicorn’. Meanwhile Koho’s $210million Series D financing in February of this year has put the Toronto-based fintech close to joining their $1billion unicorn ranks.
Today, Canada has more than 1,200 fintech companies with Toronto its largest commercial hub. The innovation ecosystem in Toronto is supported by the region being the second largest financial centre, and having the highest concentration of financial services employment, in all of North America. Canada is also home to some of the largest banks, insurance firms, and asset managers in the world.
Toronto is also North America’s fastest-growing tech market, adding over 80,000 tech jobs in the past five years. Technology talent now comprises 10.2 per cent of total employment in Toronto, the third highest concentration in North America.
Additionally, Canada is globally recognised for its healthy artificial intelligence (AI) business environment, ranking fourth in the Global AI Index for its global competitiveness in AI implementation, innovation and investment.
“Canada has more than 1,200 fintech companies with Toronto its largest commercial hub”
As well as rising investment, an increasing number of strong ecosystem collaborations are expected to boost fintech growth, according to Accenture’s Canada Fintech Report 2021, such as FreshBooks acquisition of FastBill, one of Germany’s leading cloud accounting and invoicing software solutions in October.
The Canadian government believes its ‘ambitious but achievable’ plans to implement an operational open banking system by 2023 will also ensure the country continues ‘to enjoy a strong, stable, and innovative financial sector’.
This month, leading fintechs across Canada have been chosen to take part in a business mission to London and Dublin, organised by Toronto Finance International, a public-private partnership which drives the growth and competitiveness of the financial services sector, and is also the lead voice for the promotion of the Toronto Financial Centre around the world.
The delegation represents the diversity of Canadian companies heading towards international growth and expansion across Europe, ranging from anti-money laundering software and payment fraud detection to automating communication tools and one-click mortgages.
The Fintech Times hears from 10 Canadian fintechs making waves in the industry on their plans for 2022…
Ada’s vision is to be the best product for automating communication between brands and people. Using Ada’s technology, brands – including Zoom, Facebook and Square – purposefully automate conversations with each customer and employee, saving costs and growing revenue without betraying the brand promises they made. Each customer and employee can receive a VIP experience that’s personalised, proactive and accessible — no matter who they are, what channel they prefer, or what language they speak.
Ada says: “This year you can expect to see an expansion of how brands interact with their customers, prospects, and employees and the channels in which they can talk beyond text-based messaging. We also expect some big changes to the industry, and we have five big ideas to help executives understand and prepare for a new reality at scale. One where automation needs to play a crucial role — without betraying the brand you promised to be.”
Based in Montreal, Timechain is a money services business with a mission to make the future of digital finance accessible and simple to use for everyone. Specialising in digital asset and DeFi (decentralised finance) services, Timechain’s assortment of complementary products provide users with a financial alternative to traditional banking. Timechain streamlines everything from storing digital assets and earning three per cent rewards, swapping or bridging tokens with optimal routes or performing DeFi protocols like staking and farming to generate additional yield.
Timechain says: “We are set to launch our first NFT collection in coming weeks, which will provide holders additional rewards and benefits in the Timechain universe. We are also building our very own metaverse that will mix elements of naturalism and cosmic phenomena for our team and NFT holders to interact and explore in, which is set to release sometime in May. We are on track to hit $100million in revenue by next year, and our team is estimated to grow up to 100 employees by then.”
iComply Investor Services
Global software provider iComply Investor Services offers a modular, customisable platform solution that helps organisations reduce their anti-money laundering (AML) costs, processing time and data privacy and security risks. It helps organisations cut human resource costs of know your customer (KYC) operations by 80 per cent, reduce client onboarding time from weeks to minutes, enhance risk screening with machine learning to cut AML adjudication time by 75 per cent, and reduce software development costs for KYC and AML by 90 per cent.
iComply Investor Services says: “In 2022, our team is implementing a new direct sales channel for North American and European markets. With the expected launch of our Series A fundraising round this year, we have plans to add six to seven additional resources to our product team and three to four resources to our business development and marketing teams. Our product roadmap for 2022 also includes enhanced legal entity portal management and transaction monitoring.”
INETCO Systems Ltd
INETCO provides the payment industry with next generation solutions for real-time detection and blocking of payment fraud, insider fraud and advanced persistent threats; real-time detection and blocking of sophisticated DDoS and cyber threats existing solutions can’t detect; real-time analytics and data streaming; payment network operational monitoring. Sophisticated DDoS, BIN, terminal and other high velocity attacks are automatically detected and blocked without blocking or adding latency to legitimate transactions.
INETCO says: “After completing our growth equity round in Q2-2022, we are planning on doubling headcount to support the growth in INETCO BullzAI customers, working towards setting up additional satellite sales offices and continuing to develop our fraud and DDoS prevention capabilities including solutions to reduce a variety of fraud attacks in the growing crypto and NFT space.”
SAVVYY Technologies Inc.
Founded in 2018, Toronto-based SAVVYY is passionate about helping lenders change the way they work through technology. Its cloud native underwriting platform turns banks into fintechs and gives credit teams the tools they need to shine by empowering the use of new data sources, real-time decisioning, stakeholder collaboration and task automation to deliver a vastly improved customer experience and increased lender efficiency. It sees a future where a ‘one-click’ mortgage is possible.
SAVVYY says: “2022 will be a real growth year for SAVVYY. Following our recent CA$5.7million fundraise, we continue to expand our Canadian client base from the three major banks currently live on our platform, as well as looking internationally. We are excited about productizing our platform for a wider range of lenders to access and expanding connectivity to the ecosystem of data providers and point solutions.”
Boosted.ai has honed proprietary, finance-specific machine learning algorithms into a point-and-click user interface to help institutional investors find opportunities within capital markets. Its artificial intelligence software for asset managers – Boosted Insights – can help anyone that manages money, even those with zero programming knowledge, by combining artificial intelligence, big data and an investment manager’s finance expertise.
Boosted.ai says: “We will be using our recent Series B funding round, led by Ten Coves Capital and Spark Capital, to scale Boosted Insights. We have increased our team count dramatically and will use the additional resources to continue bringing innovative AI offerings – like AI-powered hedge baskets, ML signal optimisers, and the ability to launch AI investment products – to institutional investors globally.”
impak Finance is an impact assessment and rating agency based in Europe and Canada whose mission is to help investors and lenders make more sustainable decisions by providing them with assessments that go beyond ESG and include both the negative and positive impacts of their assets. It combines technology and human expertise to provide the first 360 impact assessment which offers investors qualitative and quantitative standardised data.
Impak Finance says: “Ramping up our impak Analytics platform and integrated business intelligence (BI) software will allow for easy benchmarking of any piece of data against peers and across portfolios in addition to customisable thematic modules providing environmental and social data contextualisation.”
Brim Financial provides a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) that supports end-to-end re-platforming and embedded finance with a vertically integrated and modular technology stack, built from the payment rails up. Its focus is on delivering transformative value to existing and new partners through turnkey re-platforming and embedded finance solution with current partners including Canadian Western Bank and Laurentian Bank. Brim is the only PaaS globally that bridges the issuance and merchant ecosystem under one vertically integrated platform and is licensed to issue credit cards by Mastercard.
Brim says: “Brim is currently rolling out with large partners in the US and will continue with its growth in North America followed by global expansion in various markets over the coming 12 months. More information about new products and platforms as well as transformative partnerships will be coming soon.”
Data Front specialises in financial reporting for asset managers. It has developed a web application that facilitates the reporting process for fund companies—from the intake and processing of mutual fund and ETF performance, risk and portfolios to the publication of that data to web profiles, PDF reports and PowerPoint decks. Its solution that allows clients to build their own websites and reports using drag-and-drop reusable components.
Data Front says: “We will continue to drive our technology forward and bring these innovations to the fund industry. Our Modus Operandi is to create efficiencies in the fund reporting industry and we have hit upon a very compelling solution to that end.
Riskfuel is a capital markets technology company using AI to accelerate valuation and risk sensitivity calculations for over-the-counter derivative instruments. Riskfuel speeds up complex financial models so that what once took all night, can now be completed in seconds. Traders now have access to fast and reliable valuation and risk management tools helping them win trades they should be winning and avoiding losses when the market swings.
Riskfuel says: “Since its founding in 2019, Riskfuel has invested heavily in research and development and is tackling even the most challenging production models such as the Autocallable. We are planning to raise a Series A round this year and expand our sales into Europe.”