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HSBC Holdings PLC is opening a new 50-person data lab in Toronto that will harness the city’s artificial-intelligence talent.

The London-based global bank announced the lab at the Collision tech conference in Toronto on Wednesday. As many as 50 new artificial-intelligence professionals, including data scientists, engineers and analysts, as well as students, will analyze up to 10 petabytes of data – that’s 10 million gigabytes – on 1.6 million corporate and institutional clients in more than 60 countries, in order to help HSBC develop new products and services. It will be HSBC’s second Global Data & Innovation Lab, following its first in London.

With financial-technology companies encroaching on established banks worldwide, many of those banks have begun trying to disrupt the industry from within. Because banks are home to massive amounts of information on customers throughout their financial lives, many have been investing in artificial-intelligence technologies to help parse it all.

Better understanding these client patterns means gaining the ability to predict when a client needs a product or service. Toronto-Dominion Bank last year bought Toronto AI startup Layer 6 for more than $100-million, and has since begun using the technology for to predict consumer needs and make offers for products such as mortgages at precisely the right moment.

HSBC says that Toronto AI specialists will be able to use machine-learning techniques with the “largest aggregation of corporate and institutional client data” it has ever put together. Working across these data sets, the bank hopes to better understand both corporate-client behaviour as well as broader global trade flows.

“Emerging technologies such as AI are becoming more prevalent and disruptive across financial services by the day,” said Chuck Teixeira, chief administrative officer and head of transformation at HSBC Global Banking and Markets, in an e-mail to The Globe and Mail.

Mr. Teixeira said that HSBC hopes the AI lab will find ways for the bank to simplify its operations and reduce costs, as well as assist in preventing financial crimes.

It is aiming to partner with startups and other AI firms from across Canada to co-develop products for the bank.

The lab leadership will report to HSBC’s Canadian chief operating officer Daniel Kenny. The bank has 1,500 employees in Toronto and the AI lab will be based at its Canadian head office in the city’s downtown.

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