Clearing and settlement systems are essential to the smooth functioning of a modern market-based economy such as Canada's. During the past decade, there have been significant efforts in Canada and abroad to improve electronic clearing and settlement systems that handle payments obligations, either uniquely or in conjunction with transactions related to the purchase and sale of a broad range of financial instruments such as debt, equity, foreign exchange, or derivatives.
This article examines some of the risks faced by participants and end-users of these systems and reviews the Bank of Canada's role in relation to these systems. For a number of years, the Bank has been involved informally with major clearing and settlement systems with a view to ensuring that systemic risk is adequately controlled. In July 1996, the Payment Clearing and Settlement Act was proclaimed. This Act formalized the role of the Bank in the oversight of clearing and settlement systems for the purpose of controlling systemic risk. The article provides an overview of the Bank's responsibilities. It also describes certain new powers that the Act made available to the Bank that could be exercised in its dealings with clearing and settlement systems.