OTTAWA, June 6, 2018 /CNW/ - The Canadian Postmasters and Assistants Association (CPAA) is calling for greater transparency and scrutiny of partnerships between Canada Post Corporation and financial technology ("fintech") companies, even as legislation is being debated to restore postal banking in Canada.
Financial technologies ("fintech") are shaking up banking sectors all over the world, targeting gaps in traditional financial services such as international remittances and serving the underbanked.
Both Brazil's and Spain's postal systems recently struck deals with fintech companies to offer services such as prepaid credit cards for consumers, as well as accounts for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
Canada Post has also been quietly partnering with fintech companies, allowing people to open bank accounts, pay their bills, and even pay their taxes at post offices. For example, Scotiabank-owned Tangerine has postal clerks verifying IDs, allowing people to instantly activate bank accounts at Canada Post outlets. Paytm Canada, a bill payment mobile app, recently partnered with Canada Post and Payment Source, allowing customers at 6,000 Canada Post locations to pay bills without transaction fees. On May 17th, Paytm's CEO stated: "We have seen great adoption of this service."
Payment Source also partnered with the Canada Revenue Agency this year to allow Canadians to use a QR code to pay their taxes at the post office.
Minister of Procurement and Public Services Carla Qualtrough promised to ensure Canada Post will "work in partnership" with its employees on new technologies but these fintech partnerships have not been made with any consultation with the CPAA, which has been campaigning with allies, including over 900 municipalities, to offer financial and government services through rural post offices.
"Rural Canada needs better financial services and the best way to deliver them is through the thousands of post offices operated by Postmasters," said Brenda McAuley, national president of the CPAA, which represents over 8,000 rural postal workers operating over 3,000 rural post offices nationwide.
"We've been urging the Liberals to seriously explore this possibility, but it looks like there may be a backdoor plan that's allowing private companies to creep in."
Bank branches are scarce or closing in rural Canada, forcing residents to travel long distances. McAuley points out that Postmasters, who are already trained for MoneyGrams (now partnered with Royal Bank for e-transfers) and prepaid Visa cards, could save their communities considerable travel time and money, while maintaining local jobs and services.
McAuley points out that rural post offices are trusted institutions while Paytm's Indian parent company has been accused of sharing its customers' data with the Indian government. The security of online banking customers is a major issue in Canada as well: on May 29th, CIBC's Simplii and the Bank of Montreal reported being hacked, compromising the data of 90,000 Canadians.
McAuley says she was approached by a big bank wanting to put ATMs in rural post offices but prefers to see any revenue from financial services flowing back into her members' rural communities rather than to the big banks.
"The big banks are making billions by charging us some of the highest fees in the world," she said. "Why shouldn't we invest in our own communities and our own services by banking at the post office?"
Irene Mathyssen (MP London-Fanshawe), who introduced M-166, a motion to restore postal banking, in March, has tabled an Inquiry of Ministry in the House of Commons showing that Canada Post conducted not one but six separate studies on postal banking over a 5-year period.
"We have a real opportunity here with Motion M-166 under debate and a change in management at Canada Post," said McAuley. "The Liberals need to deliver on that culture of collaboration they've promised us and stop the stealth privatization."
SOURCE Canadian Postmasters and Assistants Association
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