Canada’s RBC eyes Silicon Valley talent at fintech hub

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Reuters Canada | Matt Scuffham | June 8, 2016

RBC silicon valley fintech innovation hub

TORONTO (Reuters) - Royal Bank of Canada wants to team up with Silicon Valley's brightest talent to position itself at the forefront of new financial technologies, Vice President of Innovation Gabriel Woo said in an interview.

The bank, Canada's biggest lender, has launched an "innovation lab" in Silicon Valley, where it will identify and work with local "fintech" start-ups, Woo said on Wednesday. It has already opened similar facilities in Toronto, London, Luxembourg, New York and Orlando, Florida.

Having initially viewed the fledgling fintech industry as a threat, banks are now looking to embrace innovations and work with technology companies rather than be left behind as platforms such as blockchain, on which digital currency bitcoin is built, change the financial landscape. "Banks need to do this to take advantage of really good opportunities that otherwise might go by," Woo said. "Many start-up companies are doing some really interesting things and are started by really smart young talent that probably wouldn't consider joining a bank at this point in their lives."

See:  Fintech: Shaking up the financial industry

Fintech ventures, usually start-ups, develop technology ranging from loan, insurance and payment services to cloud data storage on smartphones. According to KPMG, global investment in fintech companies totaled $19.1 billion last year.

Other Canadian banks are also participating. Toronto-Dominion Bank is collaborating with Cisco Systems Inc, while Bank of Nova Scotia has set up a "digital factory" to partner and collaborate with fintech companies.

RBC has set aside C$100 million ($78 million) as "seed money" to invest in such companies, and Woo said it would look to open more labs around the world.

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