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Pierre Blouin, former CEO of MTS Allstream and Manitoba Telecom Services Inc.

JOHN WOODS/The Globe and Mail

National Bank of Canada has appointed Pierre Blouin to its board of directors, signalling the importance of developing more digital banking capabilities as the lender responds to dramatic technological changes within retail banking.

Mr. Blouin was most recently chief executive officer of Manitoba Telecom Services Inc. until he retired at the end of 2014. Before that, he worked for 20 years at BCE Inc., where he served as group president of consumer markets for Bell Canada and president and CEO of Bell Mobility – providing him with a lot of experience in the area of digital transformation.

"With Canadian financial institutions today operating in an increasingly complex technological environment, Pierre Blouin's expertise as a CEO of digital technology companies will be an important asset to National Bank's board," Jean Houde, National Bank's chairman, said in a statement.

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Indeed, digital experience appears to be highly sought after by many Canadian banks as they beef up their online and mobile services, and the appointment is the latest in a number of telco executives recruited by banks for their knowledge and expertise in this area.

George Cope, CEO of BCE Inc., sits on Bank of Montreal's board. Meanwhile, Nadir Mohamed, a former CEO of Rogers Communications Inc., is a director at Toronto-Dominion Bank.

Other banks have recently appointed board members with considerable technology expertise. In December, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce named Nanci Caldwell to its board, highlighting her two decades at Hewlett-Packard Co. in Canada and the United States, as well as her membership on software company boards in California.

In January, Bank of Nova Scotia appointed Scott Bonham to its board. Mr. Bonham co-founded GGV Capital, a venture capital firm with an office in Silicon Valley. He is also a board member of the C100 Association, a non-profit organization that connects Canadian entrepreneurs with expatriate mentors working in Silicon Valley.

In other moves, Laurentian Bank of Canada on Wednesday announced the appointment of Sonia Baxendale to its board. Until 2011, she was CIBC's president of retail banking and wealth management.

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