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Report On Business Scotiabank launches ‘digital factory’ that will house 350 tech jobs

Scotiabank was not able to specify how many of the positions will be new hires.

Chris Helgren/Reuters

Bank of Nova Scotia says it will be partnering with fintech startups and launching a "digital factory" in order to boost its technological offerings to clients.

The digital factory will be located in Toronto and will house more than 350 tech jobs, including user experience designers and data scientists.

Some of these will be existing jobs being brought under one roof, while others will be newly created positions that the bank has already begun hiring for.

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Scotiabank was not able to specify how many of the positions will be new hires.

The bank says it plans to have the facility be fully operational by mid-2016.

One of the teams that will be brought under the digital factory umbrella, called "Rapid Labs," has been working on improving mortgage applications. The process designed by the team is currently being tested at some of Scotiabank's branches.

"We serve 21 million customers globally and their lives and expectations are changing quickly, so their banking experience must too," Michael Zerbs, co-head of information technology at Scotiabank, said in a statement.

"Scotiabank's Digital Factory will create an environment where our teams can be flexible, adventurous, empowered and challenged to design and deliver a game-changing customer experience."

With a number of nimble tech companies wading into the financial space in recent years – from online lenders to digital portfolio managers to mobile wallets – the banks are facing pressure to innovate or risk losing market share. Critics have accused the lenders for being slow to innovate, as they are bogged down by legacy structures.

A number of financial institutions have begun partnering with financial technology upstarts in hopes of better serving the needs of increasingly tech-savvy consumers.

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At Royal Bank of Canada's annual meeting last spring, chief executive Dave McKay said the bank will need to work with early-stage companies – "even the ones trying to disrupt us" – in order to adapt to an increasingly digital world.

RBC recently launched voice biometrics technology that negates the need for passwords and can identify clients contacting its call centres by the sound of their voice.

And at its investor day last week, CIBC announced that it had partnered with a fintech startup to launch an algorithm-based, online lending platform.

The bank also has a digital lab at Toronto's Mars Discovery District, a space that houses early-stage companies and other tech innovators including Airbnb, Etsy and Facebook.

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