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2023 Fall Economic Update on Consumer-Driven Banking 🥳

Financial Services | Digital Banking | Fintech | Open Banking

2023 Fall Economic Update on Consumer-Driven Banking 🥳

November 29, 2023

When we attended the CLA Lenders Summit a few weeks ago, it seemed like everyone was ready to sign the death certificate for Open Banking in Canada. Very little, if any, material progress had been communicated on behalf of the government to create a regulatory framework or policy mandate to make good on the promise or timelines defined by an Advisory Committee on Open Banking Report which became the mandate of Abraham Tachjian, who was appointed as Canada’s Open Banking lead, by the Liberal government in 2022.

Fast-forward to Wednesday November 21st, 2023 when Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland provided her 2023 Fall Economic Update, our team, as well as many of our clients and industry collaborators were taken by surprise when the Liberals laid out a framework and timeline for Canada to implement a Consumer-Driven Banking approach.

Aside from a snazzy rebrand of the open banking moniker, the policy statement on Consumer-Driven Banking outlined the goal of “adopting legislation and fully implementing the necessary governance framework by 2025”. It would seem from the update, part of the governments motivation for moving ahead with consumer-driven banking is a focus on the affordability crises facing many Canadians. The Consumer-Driven Driven Banking policy statement was listed under the header of “Making Life More Affordable” in the economic update.  The update for Canada now seems to be following a similar path to how policy is being shaped and implemented in the US.

Our Take:

As long-term believers in the benefits of Open Banking, we are thrilled to learn of the renewed commitment to making consumer-directed banking a reality in Canada.  While there is still a lot of work to be done as well as the additional hurdle of new  legislation being tabled during an election cycle, we are committed to the potential  benefits of Consumer Directed Banking for banking customers and the significant opportunity for innovation and collaboration in the Canadian financial services sector.

You can read the full Fall Economic Statement here but if you are short on time, ChatGPT did a pretty good job of summarizing the statement in bullets, below.

 

Introduction to Consumer-Driven Banking:

    • Allows secure transfer of financial data via API.
    • Aims to replace unsecure screen-scraping.
    • Enables access to data-driven financial services.

Benefits of Consumer-driven Banking:

    • Consumers gain secure access to innovative financial tools.
    • Greater control over financial data for improved outcomes.
    • Small businesses experience reduced administrative burden.

Policy Objectives:

    • Safety and soundness of the financial sector.
    • Consumer financial well-being and protection.
    • Economic growth and international competitiveness.

Core Framework Elements:

    • Governance: Oversight and management of the system.
    • Scope: Types of data, participants, and expansion pace.
    • Accreditation: Requirements for participating in data sharing.
    • Common Rules: Privacy, security, and liability guidelines.
    • Technical Standards: Establishment and oversight of data flow.

Course of Action (Legislation in 2024):

    • Phased approach to scope, oversight, and screen-scraping elimination.
    • Key elements codified in legislation.
    • Mandate to a government-led entity for supervision and enforcement.

Governance (Effective Oversight):

    • Government-led entity to supervise and enforce the framework.
    • Model for provincial entities to “opt-in” to governance.
    • Strong governance framework to ensure compliance.

Scope (Phased Implementation):

    • Initial phase includes federally-regulated financial institutions.
    • Opt-in option for credit unions and third parties.
    • Reciprocal access for all entities to promote data portability.

Accreditation (Trusted Data Sharing):

    • Formal framework for entities collecting consumer data.
    • Regular reporting for accreditation maintenance.
    • Exemption for federally-regulated banks and credit unions.

Common Rules (Transparent Foundation):

    • Privacy, security, and liability obligations.
    • Compliance as a condition for data access.
    • Complements existing legislation.

Privacy (Protection Measures):

    • Participants must comply with legislative frameworks.
    • Specific privacy rules for financial data sharing.
    • Consent dashboards for real-time consumer control.

Liability (Clear Structure):

    • Statutory contractual relationship between participants.
    • Liability moves with the data and rests with the party at fault.
    • Internal policies and procedures for complaint handling.

Security (Protecting Consumer Data):

    • Clear security requirements for accredited entities.
    • Oversight of security standards in legislation.
    • Ongoing reporting obligations for data protection.

Single Technical Standard:

    • Mandate for a single technical standard.
    • Legislation to outline principles and oversight.

Next Steps for consumer-driven banking:

    • Department of Finance aims to implement the framework by 2025.
    • Ongoing engagement with industry stakeholders.
    • Legislative framework development and phased implementation.

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The Keys to the Secret Garden: Unlocking the Potential of AI in the Enterprise

Insight | AI | Enterprise Tech | Generative AI

The Keys to the Secret Garden: Unlocking the Potential of AI in the Enterprise

November 27, 2023
Image of a garden

At this point, enterprise generative AI applications for  software developmentmarketingcustomer/employee service , and product design are proliferating as the standout use-cases early adopters are focusing on. From our position working with clients to develop and enable enterprise data + AI solutions, we’ve gained perspective on several of the foundational characteristics enterprises will need to develop to realize on the promise of this 3rd wave of the human-computer revolution.

Even though it is still early days we are very enthusiastic about the prospects of LLMs and powerful ML capabilities to unlock vast economic value and growth for progressive enterprises. Some are estimating an impact of $1 trillion, or 4% of GDP, in the U.S. alone and the generative AI market is expected to see rapid growth, rising from 11.3 billion USD in 2023 to 51.8 billion by 2028.

But First, a Disclaimer

Blanc Labs focuses on the financial services and healthcare industries. We see both sectors as having massive potential in terms of the benefits offered through the application of these transformative technologies.  Both healthcare and financial services are hugely complex, highly regulated, and depending on who you speak to, resistant to change. We believe the stage is set for a broader divergence of winners and losers: organizations that build capability and competency in adopting new tools and leverage the power of their enterprise data will stand to reap the benefits of their investments.

So with all the hype surrounding generative AI and the rapid advancement of a field that feels to moving forward at the speed of light, it is important to understand why some organizations will be better suited to create value in this field than others, and what organizations can do to ensure success.

⛔️ Cloud Infrastructure Only ⛔️

AWS Enterprise Strategist and Evangelist, Phil Lebrun is a pretty smart guy. In one of his posts about the topic, his flagship advice is “Don’t try this without the cloud.” You want your teams focused on problem-solving and innovation, not on managing the underlying complexity and cost of enabling infrastructure and licenses. The cloud is the enabler for adopting AI, making available cost-effective data lakes, sustainably provisioned GPUs and compute, high-speed networking, and consumption-based costing.

Enterprise Platforms are a Lynchpin

If we consider that having completed a cloud migration or cloud native approach is table stakes for AI  enablement within an organization, the next big question will be where your enterprise data resides. The organization’s technology infrastructure and enterprise platform ecosystem will in many ways determine what toolsets may be available to facilitate experimentation and development of AI enabled use cases.

If you are a CIO, CTO or CDO, start by taking stock of the platforms that house your enterprise data and evaluate the toolsets offered by these power technology-ecosystem juggernauts. Microsoft and AWS are emerging as clear leaders in terms of providing their customers powerful tools to apply ML and AI to their enterprise data, but Salesforce, SAP, Pega and OpenText – amongst many others will offer tooling to access, manage and apply AI to enterprise data.

It is impossible to predict who the big winners and losers of this space will be, partially because they are such massive and well entrenched players but keep an eye on this space over the next few years.

The 👿 is in the Data [Taxonomy]

Building an enterprise data model across a complicated operating environment like a bank is no small feat. Standardizing data definitions between different lines of business in a bank involves tackling the complexity of enterprise (+legacy) platforms used to store and handle data. This complexity extends to accommodating the diverse needs of various stakeholder groups with distinct preferences for accessing, manipulating, and analyzing data.

In many ways, risk is a unifying theme and responsibility within regulated industries like the banking sector. We see conformance to risk measurement and regulatory reporting requirements as a lightning rod for action amongst FI’s to get their “data house” in order but proactive approaches amongst banking and technology executives are few and far between.

In a recent interview with Tech Exec magazine, VP of Data and Adaptive Intelligence at Munich Re Canada Branch (Life), Lovell Hodge encapsulated the shift in how progressive organizations are thinking about their data:

“Over the years, there has been a realization that data has an inherent information value to the organization. As the years go by, we’re rapidly producing more data at an increasingly and somewhat alarming rate. So, what a lot of folks in the industry have realized is that there is not a huge space between theoretical concepts around information from data, and how they can use that information to simplify internal processes and also benefit clients.
So, you’re seeing that interdependence starting to mature. And because of that, many organizations are looking at their data not as just something they have to store, but as an asset they can leverage. And once you start thinking in that sort of way, then you start to formulate methods by which you can gain value from data, and it becomes an important part of your corporate strategy.”

App Design and Development Now Occurs ‘In the Data’

Historically, software design and development occurred in a sandbox that was devoid of enterprise data. In traditional dev environments we piped in dummy data to test parameters and during QA tested connectivity and security. But with the explosion of sophisticated ML and AI tools, application development will very much occur at the nexus of querying, manipulating, analyzing and visualizing proprietary data sets.

There is a tremendous amount of opportunity for these new tools to democratize data for business users through the use of conversational/natural language query tools to conduct analysis and derive insights from enterprise data sets.

Another big change will be the blurring of the lines between the role of developers and data scientists and in many cases, these resources will be working directly alongside each other.  Technical resources will require access to live data sets to facilitate model training and to leverage powerful data analytics toolsets. This is going to require a significant shift (from reactive to proactive) in terms of access management and data security.

Firms that work with external partners will require them to adhere to an extremely high standard of data security protocols i.e., ISO and SOC 2 compliance certification with regular audits.

Specific sector, domain, and knowledge of business context has always counted for a lot but increasingly developers won’t be able to rely on detailed functional, technical and design requirements documentation to define the specs of what they are developing.  It will require a much more experimental, test and learn approach.  Toolsets are only going to get more user friendly to work with but developing high impact apps leveraging advanced AI/ML techniques will require a detailed and nuanced understanding of user needs, workflow, data inputs, command prompts, prompt modelling strategies, and a continuous improvement approach to get to a place of lasting and tangible impact for businesses and teams.

In Summary:

There is much still to be learned through this large-scale adoption of a suite of technologies that are evolving at such a rapid pace. This is by no means a complete list of the things business teams and leaders need to consider as they look to capture competitive advantage from these powerful new tools. At Blanc Labs, we are excited about the future and look forward to working with companies to develop their capabilities to create business value by harnessing the tremendous potential of their enterprise data.

About the Author

David Offierski
VP Partnerships & Marketing

With over 15 years in technology consulting services, I am thrilled at how next-gen technologies will unlock a new wave of innovation and productivity for enterprises.

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Low-Code Tools and Automation Power Minor Ailments Program for Pharmacists

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November 3, 2023

Blanc Labs teamed up with Daylight Automation (acquired by Quadient) to enable the Minor Ailments service at a major Canadian pharmacy.  The team designed and deployed digital forms, automated workflows, and integrated with enterprise systems to power how pharmacists assess and treat 15 minor ailments at pharmacies across the country. This comes  at a critical inflection point for Canadians needing efficient access to healthcare services.

The client knew having pharmacists fill out a paper-form for each patient would not scale across their network and would create massive headaches for data integration, workflow management, payments & billing, and information security.

With Blanc Labs support, the Pharmacy rolled out a digital workflow solution that offers patients and pharmacists a much improved experience that eliminates extra steps, ensuring accurate and timely assessments, and treatment of minor ailments.

After 6-months of Minor Ailments Service in Ontario

244,630

Assessments Completed

250,150

Prescriptions for Minor Ailments

Benefits of our Solution Approach

Integrated Solution
Streamlined Data Collection
Improved Data Quality & Security
Superior Customer and Employee Experience
Real-Time Updates

Impact

How Blanc Labs transformed for Reliq Health Technologies
85%
Of All Community Pharmacies are Prescribing for Minor Ailments
8
Provinces Currently Allow Pharmacists to Prescribe for Minor Ailments
$42M +
Savings to Ontario with Pharmacists Treating for 3 Minor Ailments

A Transformative Approach to Primary Care

Given that pharmacists are the most accessible health care professionals, I think minor ailments prescribing will lead to an improved pharmacist-patient relationship and a more fulfilling professional career. As medication experts, pharmacists are trained and equipped with the knowledge to practice beyond classic dispensing activities.

Providing clinical services, which allow pharmacists to use their entire range of training, is the future of pharmacy.

When it comes to minor ailments prescribing, passionate pharmacists will be invaluable and I’m hopeful that a shift will occur where these types of services become the norm1.

Timothy Brady, Chair of Ontario Pharmacists Association

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Team Member Spotlight – Noel John, VP of Client Engagement and Delivery

Financial Services | IT Management | Leadership

Team Member Spotlight – Noel John, VP of Client Engagement and Delivery

October 30, 2023

Blanc Labs’ recently appointed Noel John as VP of Client Engagement and Delivery.  We are thrilled that Noel has joined the team and brings with him a strong background in client engagement leadership.

Noel joins Blanc Labs from a fortune 500 publicly traded global technology and consulting company, where he spent close to 20 years on various leadership roles including leading a specialized QEA practice for Canadian BFSI customers. As a trusted partner for clients, he aids them in achieving their business objectives. His approach is rooted in the belief that true transformation requires active listening and a partnering approach through all phases of the journey.

Noel John
VP Client Engagement & Delivery, Blanc Labs

My focus is on building a One-Team culture in the customer-partner ecosystem, encouraging cross-functional cooperation, building high performance teams, and growth strategies that lead to driving successful outcomes.

5 Questions with Noel John

Get to know our amazing team members.

Q: Noel, you have an extensive background in client engagement and delivery, what do you think are the biggest drivers of success?

I have found that bringing a client centric approach to everything you do has proven to be a tried and trusted driver for success. You need to understand the client’s business, their future plans and the industry trends. You need to be their trusted partner to drive the required change.

 Q: Technology is always evolving, and it seems like we are in a period of rapid acceleration. What technology trends are you watching closely and/or building capability to serve clients?   

Artificial Intelligence has become de-facto topic in a huge number of client conversations. AI is not just a technological advancement but it’s poised to transform the whole business i.e it’s transforming how clients conduct their business.

We are still in the very early stages of this evolution but we now have all the ingredients like data, compute power, storage etc. Human creativity combined with the AI capabilities will unleash enormous opportunities for consumers and businesses.

These are some of the most exciting spaces to be working with clients because enabling this transformative technology will require a highly collaborative approach between business and technology teams, as well as partner support.

Q: What attracted you to Blanc Labs? Why did you decide to join this organization at this point in your career?

While I spent most of my career so far with large fortune 500 company, I was hungry to have new experiences, learn new skills and contribute along the way.

Blanc Labs provided this opportunity to run your portfolio like a start-up. I am looking forward to making a meaningful impact leveraging Blanc Labs’ entrepreneurial and innovative culture.

Q: Noel, thanks for the thoughtful responses.  We are super excited to have you join the team and work with you.  Last question, tell us something about yourself that folks in your professional network might not know about you.

I love to be outdoors during all four seasons, hiking in summer and skiing in winter.   

I also own a motorcycle and love to take weekend trips to cruise the backroads of Ontario.  This time of year is particularly special as you get to see the amazing fall colors on the trees.  Safe motoring and see you on the road! 

 

You can reach Noel John at noelj@blanclabs.com or LinkedIn.

Blanc Labs Noel John