RBC ral­lies its friends to keep tech gi­ants at bay

Ottawa Citizen - - FP - GE­OFF ZOCHODNE

The head of the Royal Bank of Canada sounded a ral­ly­ing cry for cor­po­rate Canada on Wed­nes­day, urg­ing firms north of the border to “band to­gether” to fend off the threat to their busi­nesses posed by global tech­nol­ogy gi­ants.

“As we look out­side our bor­ders, the plat­forms are al­most all for­eign owned, and they are col­lect­ing more in­for­ma­tion and more in­sight on Cana­di­ans than Cana­dian firms are,” said Dave McKay, pres­i­dent and chief ex­ec­u­tive of RBC, dur­ing an in­vestor day in Toronto. “So it’s an im­per­a­tive that we kind of band to­gether as Cana­dian firms with in­sight into Cana­di­ans to take con­trol of our fu­ture.”

The pitch came as RBC un­veiled new goals for its Cana­dian busi­ness that in­clude in­creased ef­fi­ciency and the ad­di­tion of more than 2.5 mil­lion new clients by 2023.

The coun­try’s big­gest bank plans to take ad­van­tage of its scale to get there, as well as a tech-fo­cused strat­egy that will uti­lize RBC’s trea­sure trove of cus­tomer data, in­vest­ments in start-up-like “ven­tures” and lower costs cre­ated by the grow­ing dig­i­ti­za­tion of the busi­ness.

But the bank will also lean on part­ner­ships with other com­pa­nies, a point un­der­scored dur­ing an on­stage dis­cus­sion be­tween McKay and ex­ec­u­tives from Sun­cor En­ergy Inc., Indigo Books & Mu­sic Inc. and West­Jet Air­lines Ltd.

Ed Sims, pres­i­dent and CEO of West­Jet, noted that de­spite their dif­fer­ent in­dus­tries, the three were all fac­ing com­pe­ti­tion on some level from the likes of Ama­zon.com Inc. and Al­pha­bet Inc.’s Google.

“I don’t worry about what’s hap­pen­ing in Mon­treal (where West­Jet’s chief ri­val, Air Canada, is based), I worry about Google,” he said.

In keep­ing with the theme, RBC and West­Jet an­nounced a new “next gen­er­a­tion loy­alty plat­form” on Wed­nes­day, which has been dubbed Am­pli and will be open to all Cana­di­ans. Other mer­chant part­ners in the pro­gram are to be an­nounced over the com­ing months, with Am­pli to de­but later this year with “mer­chant of­fers, flex­i­ble re­wards and ex­clu­sive bonuses,” ac­cord­ing to a re­lease.

McKay said that one of the goals was to cre­ate a “coun­ter­weight” to some of the non-Cana­dian plat­forms out there.

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