Canada: An Opportunity That Synctera Was Built For

April 2023

Expanding operations into Canada is something Synctera has been discussing and working towards since its inception. We're excited to finally bring our banking-as-a-service platform to the country. Why Canada? How big of an opportunity is it? I'm glad you asked.


Canada: An Opportunity That Synctera Was Built For

April 2023

Expanding operations into Canada is something Synctera has been discussing and working towards since its inception. We're excited to finally bring our banking-as-a-service platform to the country. Why Canada? How big of an opportunity is it? I'm glad you asked.

Kris Hansen
CTO and co-founder

Kris leads the engineering team and the cybersecurity function at Synctera. He brings over 30 years of software engineering experience and 17 years of banking technology and fintech experience.

Synctera announced some exciting news a few weeks ago and the part that personally gets my energy going is the fact that we’re expanding operations into Canada. 

We knew we wanted our platform to be there, it was just a matter of time. 

We’ve been discussing our thoughts both internally and externally with FinTechs in the region for a while now. And then of course, our engineers based in Canada would often ask “when can we test and try some of these solutions at home?”

The time has come for Banking as a Service (BaaS) in Canada.

Why Canada?

We have real, tangible interest from the Canadian market - many of my friends, former colleagues and connections are there and participate in the vibrant and growing FinTech community in a meaningful way. 

As an added bonus, I’ve seen firsthand some of the challenges of operating a business in the Canadian market – and seen the contrast of what the US market is like to build and operate in. 

That gives us an instant advantage. 

Several of our US customers have expressed interest in coming to Canada while also expressing frustration when trying to understand and adapt their offering to the market, so I knew we could help, and how best to do it.

There’s a huge opportunity to bridge these two very similar yet very different markets. 

While “payments are payments” and “ledgers are ledgers” all over the world, there are many nuances and differences that can trip people up if they aren’t aware of them. Luckily, we built out our platform concepts with internationalization and multicurrency in mind.

And like I mentioned, we have engineers based there. In fact, almost half of our team is located in Canada and many of those team members have deep regional experience and have adapted and augmented their knowledge to the US. 

What took so long?

Canada is widely considered to be a tough market to enter for financial services technology - many have tried and failed. Reasons given are that the payment rails are closed and inaccessible to non-bank participants, which isn’t completely unlike the US market, and that incumbents are protective of existing fiefdoms. 

We’ve taken our time speaking to several prospective customers and several banks to build the business case and partnership model which we thought would be successful in the market. Finding the right banking partner to work with is not easily done, it’s a process for sure. Several prospective partners indicated that they loved the model and concept but they just couldn’t move fast enough due to hubris - which I thought was very honest and self aware. Other banks we spoke with were eager to explore but lacked the size and scale to support the kinds of projects that we wanted to focus on.

The right partner for us would be a larger bank who could also move at a pace which worked for the market and wanted to work with us on this type of partnership. One that’s made forward thinking investments in the FinTech space while also understanding the space very well. And finally, one with the best fit between our teams.

It was worth the wait.

Banking is changing and opportunity is knocking

Just like banking has shifted from a dedicated activity that started with “where you go to a branch to perform a task to a companion activity” and has now evolved to where you do your banking on an app while you are at the gym” - more companies are looking at how they can embed financial services solutions to solve problems for their customers, their supply chain, and/or their dealer network. 

We’re definitely seeing a shift from B2C focused FinTechs to embedded financial services models. Canada is at the forefront of this shift - I mean, Canadian Tire has been printing their own money since 1958 -  and some of the brands who want to offer embedded solutions are operating cross border in both the US and Canadian markets. 

For us to have a solution which offers one API with two markets is very compelling for them. We’ve spoken with Canadian firms who have a solution in the market in the US but have been unable to get one off the ground in Canada, so you can see why what we bring to the table is compelling.

Open banking in Canada has been moving quite slowly but I think it’s finally navigating toward more access to information for consumers and creating a more level playing field for non-traditional financial services providers. 

The real time rail promises a good funds model where traditional and non traditional financial services providers can help consumers solve problems. We could see these changes supporting innovation and helping Canadians break out of the monotony of legacy concepts and systems and move toward more innovative solutions. 

I remain an open banking and RTR optimist and our platform’s job is to solve problems related to money movement and ledgering so it’s exciting to see the potential for new tools on the horizon but we can also work with what exists today.

What’s next?

The most important thing we have to remember is that we don’t stress ourselves out with a nonexistent “perfect launch”. The way we think about things is that we have to make sure everything lines up into measured out launch windows, so we have a steady flow of programs launching while we simultaneously continue to build and bring new partners onto the platform. All while making sure that both sides are well versed and set up for regulatory compliance and success.

There’s a lot of work to be done, but we’re well underway. Since we’ve been in planning and discussion mode long before our announcement, we’ve been actively building out our offerings so that we can start matching FinTech programs to banks right out of the gate. 

Mapping customer dreams and ideas into our platform is probably the most fun and impactful work that we do - solutioning - and it covers everything from the flow of funds to the regulatory oversight to things like conversion from other platforms and partnerships. 

Getting the solutioning right is important so we work on mapping this out well. We will define these programs in our sandbox first and let them operate within this environment first. This will help us ensure that our Canadian account templates and configurations are set and we can also use this environment to familiarize our customers with the case management, regulatory rules, reconciliation, and other aspects of the Synctera platform.

It’s been quite a few years since we first thought about bringing our platform to Canada but it’s amazing to see the latest traction and progress and who wants to help innovate and build with our platform.

So there’s the why. More on how soon. It’s really hard, but absolutely worth it.

Learn more about what we're building for the Canadian market.

Subscribe to newsletter

Subscribe to receive the latest blog posts to your inbox every week.

By subscribing you agree to with our Privacy Policy.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Great FinTech apps get built and scaled on Synctera’s end-to-end platform.

Get started to learn how Synctera can bring your product vision to life