RBC rallies its friends to keep tech giants at bay
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.