Canada's Scotiabank to open technology hub in Toronto

Snow covers the Scotiabank logo at the Bank of Nova Scotia headquarters in Toronto December 16, 2013. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

TORONTO (Reuters) - Bank of Nova Scotia said on Friday it is creating a digital hub in downtown Toronto to help lure technology talent and drive innovation for Canada's third-biggest lender.

The "digital factory" will have more than 350 employees, including existing staff and new hires. It will open its doors in the middle of next year.

The hub is expected to use technology to simplify banking and will be predominantly focused on products for Scotiabank. The center also looks to partner with fintech companies and startups.

The move comes amid increasing competition from technology startups and online lenders who have started to cut into segments that have been historically dominated by the big banks.

Several of Canada's major lenders have been trimming costs and pulling back in traditional areas such as retail branches while beefing up their efforts on technology.

"It's critical that we bring new skills into the organization. Clearly, we see the factory as a way to attract new talent," Michael Zerbs, co-head of information technology at Scotiabank, said in an interview.

"It's really one part of a much larger technology initiative."

Zerbs declined to say how much Scotiabank plans to spend on the initiative.

While this is the company's first major digital hub, there might be an opportunity to export the technology to the bank's international locations, which include Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Peru, he said.

Earlier this year, Chief Financial Officer Sean McGuckin told Reuters that Scotiabank was planning to step up investments in technology over the next three years.

(Reporting by John Tilak; Editing by Matthew Lewis)