RBC Spent $1.1 Billion On Digital Over the Last 4 Years | Bank Innovation



Royal Bank of Canada has invested $1.1 billion on innovation over the last four years and added 1,000 employees to work on digital initiatives since 2016, Bank Innovation has learned.

That amount is relatively small compared to larger banks such as Bank of America, for instance. In fact, Bank Innovation previously reported that BofA is investing $500 million on innovation over the next few quarters. But then again BofA is a much larger bank with $2.3 trillion in assets, while RBC has C$1.27 trillion in assets ($959.9 billion), according to its Q2 earnings.

For RBC, the spend on tech and digital services is only part of the picture. Partnerships in academia, research institutions, other banks, telecommunications companies, and the Canadian government are all strategies RBC has employed to innovate.

Through its nine innovation labs, RBC has filed over 150 patents in areas including blockchain technology. Other areas the bank is focusing on is cybersecurity, AI, and other emerging technologies. To promote innovation in these areas, RBC last month invested $2 million in BGN Technologies, a technology company of Ben-Gurion University in Israel.

“We have an opportunity to invest in research with academic institutions, like the partnership we’ve entered with Ben Gurion University, where we’re focused on artificial intelligence and machine-learning technologies to develop advanced cybersecurity techniques,” a company spokesperson told Bank Innovation via email.

Some of the other products to come out of RBC’s venture capital arm (RBC Venture Capitals) and accelerator (Reach) are Ownr, a small business registration and incorporation tool; Drive, a record-keeping, and maintenance system for car owners; and a PFM app called Finfit.

While RBC offers a range of digital services across a few verticals, one strategy of larger banks has been to launch standalone digital-only banks. A recent example of this is JPMorgan Chase’s Finn, which it rolled out nationwide in June.

RBC has not revealed whether they have plans for such a digital bank.

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