FinTech in Canada has been growing at a rapid pace. New players are coming online all the time which has given Canadians more choice when it comes to their financial needs. Even traditional banks have recognized the importance of Fintech and have started to roll out new products that are clearly targeting people who are tech savvy.
But what is FinTech? FinTech is short for Financial Technology – an online or technology-based business that provides financial services. Similar to how Airbnb has disrupted the hotel business, and Uber has changed how we rideshare, FinTech makes anything related to your money easier.
The main types of FinTech in Canada are banking, lending, and portfolio management, but there also new apps out there that help with saving and financial education. With technology, there’s always going to be new products and services available, but let’s look at some of the established categories.
Oddly enough, it was an international company that got FinTech in Canada on the radar. ING Bank (which is Dutch) entered the market and offered interest rates that were significantly higher than the traditional banks (like 3% more). PC Financial launched around the same time, but ING’s tagline, “Save your money” was catchy and Canadians still remember it.
The business model of ING (now known as Tangerine) and PC Financial is pretty straight forward. They offered banking services online, and since they had no physical stores, they were able to offer higher interest rates. They also didn’t charge a fee for accounts which appealed to many people.
The traditional banks realize how important FinTech has become which is why they’ve introduced better products. BMO has PlanShare which gives you up to 20 accounts for a single fee, while CIBC’s Smart Account has a cap on charges.
With almost a dozen online banks available to Canadians, it can be tough to keep up with all the different features of each one. Regardless of which one you chose, make sure they’re a Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation member since your deposits will be insured up to $100,000. To get a detailed breakdown of all your options, check out Young and Thrifty’s Complete Guide to Canada’s Best Online Banks.
Robo-advisors have been around for a few years now, but the public is only now starting to understand the benefits – that being lower fees. Don’t think lower fees matter, think again. The average mutual fund charges about 2.5% in management fees whereas robo-advisors average .5 – 1%. In the long term, this savings could add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Robo-advisors are no joke, they’re completely changing the industry. Now you can get a professionally managed portfolio at a fraction of the price of mutual funds. It’s not like it’s actual robots running your portfolios, there are real people behind the scenes that have designed portfolios based around ETFs.
The general idea is that you answer a series of questions and then a portfolio will be recommended to you. The portfolios are passive and change only happens when certain preset conditions are met. It’s still cheaper to be a DIY investor, but there’s no denying that robo-advisors are a good alternative. Your investments are also protected under the Canadian Investor Protection Fund. Don’t worry if you have lots invested, many robo-advisors have additional insurance available that is free.
There are more than a dozen Canadian Robo-Advisors online right now each offering similar yet unique services. To be honest, they’re all good, but off the top of my head, I like what Justwealth, Wealthsimple, WealthBar, ModernAdvisor, NestWealth, and Smartfolio are doing. I realize that I just named half the robo-advisors out there but that’s just how good they are. If you want to learn more about robo-advisors in Canada, check out this complete guide.
Fintech in Canada is much more simple when it comes to peer-to-peer lending. There are only three major players: Borrowell, Grow, and Mogo. These online lenders offer loan approvals to people without ever having to leave their homes. Once approved, the funds are deposited in your account within 48 hours.
Interest rates vary and can range from 4.8% to 45.9% depending on your individual credit rating. Obviously, people who have a better credit rating get the best rates whereas if you’ve had some credit issues, you’ll be quoted some rates which are even worse than credit cards.
The loans are attractive to people who’re looking to get rates better than what they’re credit cards are offering or if they’re having difficulty getting loans elsewhere. Since the repayment schedule is on a fixed term, the idea is that the loans will help you get out of debt eventually – in theory, that is.
Borrowell is definitely worth checking out since they offer a free Equifax credit score without applying for a loan. To learn more about Canada’s 3 online lenders, head over to Boomer and Echo to read his review.
Other types of FinTech in Canada
Right now there are two other FinTech companies that I’m keeping an eye on. Tally is a new app that’s currently in beta that will help you save more money. You connect your accounts to Tally and their algorithms will monitor your spending habits and then auto-transfer set amounts to a savings account. You’ll get updates and tips about savings which will encourage you to save even more.
Ketty is an app that will appeal to people who want a little more control over their finances. Billed as a personal investment assistant in your pocket, the app wants to help you become a better investor. The conversational user interface will make investing less intimidating and is designed to help you regardless if you’re a novice or experienced investor.
If you’ve been resisting FinTech in Canada, now is the time to get on board. People resisted computers and cell phones when they were first introduced but they completely changed our lives. FinTech is no different, the options available have already made our lives easier and saved us money at the same time. To learn more about the differences between traditional vs. online banks, check out the infographic from stocktrades.ca.