Implementing CASL requirements

Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) has been in effect for some time to ensure that businesses and individuals reduce the harmful effects of spam and related threats to electronic commerce. It included a private right to action deadline on July 1, 2017 (which was subsequently suspended), where businesses and individuals were vulnerable to expensive fines for violations. As such, an internal team was created to ensure that all Scotiabank's communications were compliant and to mitigate possible liability.


Implement the requirements of CASL compliance as interpreted by the internal team with minimal impact to existing properties while following these key design goals:

  • Provide a clear and concise customer experience
  • Reduce friction of marketing opt-in within existing properties
  • Comply with CASL requirements as provided by the internal CASL team
Initial proposal by the internal CASL team
Initial proposal as provided by the internal team.

Concerns with initial proposal

The initial proposal provided by the internal CASL team, while entirely compliant, offered the following challenges:

  • Incentive is ambiguous - The current headline of "Join the millions of Canadians that receive valuable messages and rewards..." could be misinterpreted to include service messages.
  • Overwhelming - The lengthy legal language and list of entities, along with the presentation of the scroll box may be visually and comprehensively overwhelming.
  • Friction of choice - The available options "Ask me later" and "Yes, I want to receive messages from Scotiabank" are not entirely distinct choices, rather they may create momentary confusion which could create additional friction towards the primary task aside from the marketing message offer.


We focused our research on the requirements of CASL itself, the limitations as defined by the internal CASL team, and the needs of other designers in a variety of experiences that will be required to implement any solution. We presented our concerns with the initial proposal and worked with the internal CASL team to determine potential areas of improvements. After a couple of reviews with the internal CASL team and the legal team, we were able to narrow down our choices to two options for immediate execution.

CASL concept 1
Concept #1: straight-forward
  • Use of contextual language as a value proposition
  • Modify offer to meet different needs and experiences
  • Use of approved consent language
  • Consolidate consent language and list of entities
  • Capture consent with a simple checkbox
CASL concept 2a: default view
Concept #2: progressive disclosure (default view)
CASL concept 2b: expanded view
Concept #2: progressive disclosure (expanded view)
  • Default state creates minimal distraction
  • Allows focus on the value proposition
  • Optional use of contextual language and images
  • Customers interested in the offer will trigger the expansion
  • Customers who trigger the expansion will be more accepting to see the consent language and opt-in

Customer experience beyond compliance

While it's important to adhere to what is required of us, we need to look beyond those limits as interpreted by the internal CASL team in order to provide a better customer experience. Offering simplified language provides a level of transparency that builds trust with customers. Along with our extensive research with competitors, other industries, and examples provided by the CRTC, we're compelled to design idealized concepts that are more than just CASL compliant.

We've also taken into considerations a better experience by removing the scroll box entirely, especially in limited viewports like mobile experiences. Focus management, tap area, and overall available viewing area are big factors in trying to keep the entire opt-in component as small as possible.

CASL concept 3 ideal
Concept #3: short and sweet
CASL concept 3 contextual
Concept #3: short and sweet with a contextual offer
  • Simple and concise language
  • Optional use of contextual language and images
  • Legal language and list of entities are available through a link
  • Simplified interaction allows for flexible execution

Contextual execution

Further consideration is given to other ways of getting customers to opt-in to marketing offers rather than creating potential confusion and loss of interest.

CASL concept 4: default
Concept #4: directly related opt-in
CASL concept 4: modal
Concept #4: "Subscribe to marketing offers" triggers the modal window
  • Opt-in offer will appear next to the Scotia Rewards counter
  • Visible if customer is enrolled into a Scotia Rewards program
  • Modal window content will be customized:
    • Customer didn't participate during promotional event
    • Customer hasn't spent points in the past 4 months (potential signs of low engagement)
  • Again, simplified interaction allows for flexible execution


While it would be easy to just do what you're told, as designers, we take it upon ourselves to be fierce advocates for the customer experience. Remember to give full consideration to the people who are using our digital products and make their lives easier, to offer them the benefits of their patronage rather than force business needs on them.

Ultimately, we're able to compromise with the requirements of the internal CASL team while pushing for a better customer experience. Two concepts are available for immediate execution and designers are able to choose from either option to meet their need.

Additionally, we proposed other concepts for future consideration. Used at the right time and place, it could be more effective at converting opt-in rates.

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