Includes special features of this country’s banking system and rules/laws that might impact U.S. business.
Last Published: 8/14/2017

The Canadian banking system is well-developed and mature, and in general highly conservative and regulated with more stringent rules governing leverage and capital ratios than the United States. Although federal agencies control most of Canada’s financial sector, loan and trust companies, as well as life insurance providers, may also be governed by either federal or provincial regulations. For example, the cooperative credit movement, which includes credit unions and the “caisses populaires” in Quebec, are regulated almost exclusively under provincial jurisdiction. The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions Canada (OSFI) is the primary regulator and supervisor of federally regulated deposit-taking institutions, insurance companies, and federally regulated private pension plans. OSFI also regulates and oversees all foreign financial services companies operating in Canada.

The banking system in Canada groups financial institutions into five main categories: chartered banks, trust and loan companies, the cooperative credit movement, life insurance companies, and securities dealers. There are approximately 29 domestic banks, 24 foreign bank subsidiaries, 27 full service foreign bank branches, and three foreign bank lending branches. Combined, these institutions manage more than C$4.6 trillion in assets. Banks account for more than 70 percent of the total assets of the Canadian financial services sector, with the six largest domestic banks accounting for more than 90 percent of the banking industry’s assets. The six major banks have a significant presence outside Canada in areas such as the United States, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Asia.

Canada's banks operate through an extensive network that includes more than 6,205 branches and 18,303 automated banking machines (ABMs) across the country. Canada has one of the highest numbers of ABMs per capita in the world and benefits from very high penetration levels of electronic channels such as debit cards, internet banking, and telephone banking. Nearly 26% of Canadians report that they perform much of their banking transactions using ABMs.

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Canada Market Access Banks