RBC’s ‘Ownr’ Aims to Convert SMBs to Banking Customers

Banks are an essential cog in the wheel for SMBs. While they’ve been increasingly disintermediated in the digital era, they are often relied on for loans/credit, payments, notary and other services.

Can they put themselves front-and-center for SMBs? That’s the goal for RBC Ventures, a Toronto-based arm of The Royal Bank of Canada, which serves 16 million customers in Canada, the U.S. and 34 other countries. It is the 11th largest bank in the world.

Inspired by tech incubators, RBC Ventures will spend Can $3.2 Billion (U.S. $2.432 Billion) on AI and other technology and services this year. Much of the investment is going towards the launch of seven companies aimed at converting different niche groups to RBC Bank customers. It has plans for 12 more.

One of them, Ownr, is aimed at new SMBs. It is being set up along the lines of Arrive, another RBC Venture service that helps provide services to new emigrants.

Ownr will provide concierge services, providing such tasks as logo design, government paper work etc. It provides logo and brand builder services for Can $45. Basic registration and name search is Can $29. A Can $129 tier includes incorporation. Former YPG exec Darby Sieben has been brought to work on the new efforts.

In a Globe and Mail profile of RBC Ventures, division head Mike Dobbins thinks the new entities can work with five million new residential and SMB users by 2023. The profile notes that Canadians are normally loath to churn from existing providers, but Dobbins hopes to convert 10 percent or more to a wide range of RBC products and services.