The big banks are finally entering the digital age
T he Digital Factory is a 70,000-square-foot wonderland with a neon-lit bowling alley and a speakeasy bar. There’s a greenhouse for staff to find their Zen and a gym where instructors teach yoga before work. Instead of key cards, staff get into the building using biometric scanners straight out of Mission: Impossible. The wildest thing of all? This digital dreamscape isn’t home to a buzzy new start-up, but to the 185-year-old Scotiabank. The space houses 350 coders, algorithmists and data scientists, many of whom come from Google and Amazon. They’re overhauling Scotiabank’s online banking services to better serve clients, and adding innovations like a robo-banking adviser and a new super-encrypted security system to protect users from hackers. Scotia isn’t the only old-school bank catching up to all the enterprising fintech disrupters out there: CIBC recently started its own data lab in Waterloo and teamed up with a Canadian start-up to provide one-click loans, while RBC is pouring money into AI and machine learning. Now they just need their own bowling alleys.