Mod Blog: Identifying and mitigating risks to remain resilient

The last time we sat down with Peter Dodic, our Chief Risk Officer at Payments Canada, it was to talk about the foundational role mitigating risk plays within our organization. Central to our conversation was the topic of resiliency – resiliency of our processes, systems, and the ecosystem. Today more than ever, the importance of resiliency is in the spotlight as Canada’s national payments systems continue to remain resilient, operating flawlessly despite the evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic. For more on this topic, we checked back in with Peter. 

Headshot Peter Dodic

How is Payments Canada ensuring Canada’s payments systems operate normally during this unprecedented time in response to the COVID-19 pandemic?

To ensure our systems operate normally in times of crisis we need to be proactive rather than reactive. At an enterprise level this means planning, testing and making technology investments on an ongoing basis. Strong governance, monitoring, and reporting capabilities help us keep our finger on the pulse of both our operations and people. Meanwhile, our culture of transparency, honesty, and trust helps facilitate information sharing, second opinions, and getting to the right solution quickly.

Like many organizations, Payments Canada has robust business continuity practices in place and is well prepared to continue to adapt and respond to the evolving situation. For instance in the case of COVID-19, though we have multiple layers of contingency plans already in place, our team remains vigilant in looking for ways to increase resilience by performing further planning and testing to account for unique aspects of the current situation. In doing so, we are able to remain responsive and keep employee health and wellbeing and the operations of our systems our top priority.

Looking beyond the current pandemic situation, a key aspect of payments Modernization is embedding resilience within the new systems and processes that come along with it. To that end, we are exploring and implementing opportunities to enhance our business continuity program, disaster recovery approach and vendor integration to build further resilience in both our current and future systems and ensure we are prepared for the risks that may arise down the road.

How does Payments Canada identify and mitigate for known and unknown risks?

Our approach to identifying risk has always been multi-pronged, starting with our focus on having a strong internal risk culture. We routinely conduct internal training and engagement sessions to educate and support empowering everyone at Payments Canada to speak openly about potential risks. Our belief is that everyone – no matter the type of work they do –  plays a vital role in managing risk and protecting Canada’s payments systems. 

Another core area of focus for my team is working with the payments ecosystem to learn of different opportunities and threats. This includes working with multiple external groups – consisting of our members, regulators, and stakeholders – to ensure that we’ve identified risks that could affect not only us but also the wider industry and overall payments ecosystem. Research from external sources on risk trends also plays a critical role, along with working closely with risk and other subject matter experts within Payments Canada and from across the industry.

In terms of mitigation, we consider a host of solutions and plans across our technology, processes, and people. For risk managers, mitigation is all about reducing inherent risk to a level that we can live with. If we put on our COVID-19 hat, mitigation is all about technology resilience and planning for people. Regular crisis scenario planning and testing remains key for us. We updated and tested our crisis management plan late last year to make sure our people have a solid understanding of our plan, their role and overall responsibilities. All this is done to ensure that we are keeping our eye on the right emerging risks and evaluating how they could affect us so we’re prepared, and so that Canada’s payments systems remain safe, secure, and resilient. 

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