Federal government appoints PwC's Abraham Tachjian as open banking lead

28 March 2022 Consulting.ca 3 min. read
More news on

Department of Finance Canada has appointed Abraham Tachjian, a director at PwC, as open banking lead.

Tachjian – who has extensive experience related to open banking in Canada and internationally – will be tasked with developing a “made in Canada” regime based on the final report of the Advisory Committee on Open Banking. He will report to the deputy minister of Finance and will engage with industry, regulator, and consumer stakeholders to develop an accreditation framework, common set of rules, and technical standards for an open banking system. Tachjian will be supported by a government team and external experts “as required,” according to a press release from Finance Canada. 

The government launched the advisory committee in 2018 to examine the merits of open banking – which enables consumers to transfer data between financial institutions and third parties to gain access to an expanded range of innovative services, including budgeting and savings tools. Open banking delivers greater security through APIs (application programming interfaces) that avoid the less-than-ideal screen-scraping method used by third-party apps currently.

The advisory committee completed its report in August 2021, providing recommendations on modernizing Canada’s financial services sector and implementing a secure open banking system.Federal government appoints PwC's Abraham Tachjian as open banking leadCanada is rarely a policy innovator, generally preferring to copy its homework from Australia or Europe. Most of the advisory committee’s work was presumably examining the mature systems in the UK and continental Europe and saying, “sure.” Now comes the part where the copier tries to make their homework appear slightly different, owing of course to the unique nature of the Canadian context.

The Revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2) is the EU regulation that forms the foundation for open banking in Europe. It has existed since early 2016 and came fully into force in September 2019. The regulation does not mandate technical standards for APIs, so individual eurozone countries sort that out themselves.

The UK’s Open Banking Standard – the most advanced in the world – goes beyond API specifications to also specify customer experience and operational guidelines. The standard has already been implemented across 90% of the UK payments account market.

Canada’s wait-and-see approach to policy is, to be sure, a fine model. The civil service doesn’t have to do any of the hard work and just ports over the successful stuff while avoiding the gambles that failed.

“Canadians deserve a secure open banking system that is regulated, efficient, and protects their personal information,” said Randy Boissonnault, minister of Tourism and associate minister of Finance. “This is an important next step in the process of implementing the Advisory Committee’s recommendations, in order to convene stakeholders to design and implement the foundational elements of an open banking system that benefits both Canadians and businesses. I wish to congratulate Mr. Tachjian on his new role.”

Tachjian previously supported the work of the advisory committee in his role as a director within PwC’s financial services practice. Prior to joining the Big Four accounting and consulting firm, Tachjian helped found Mox Bank, a digital bank in Hong Kong. Before that, he was director of digital banking at Standard Chartered Bank in Singapore.

Tachjian has a bachelor’s degree from Concordia University, an LLB in civil law from Université de Montréal, a JD in common law from the University of Ottawa, and a certificate in Chinese law from China University of Political Science and Law in Beijing.