Citizens Bank of Canada

Citizens Bank of Canada is a British Columbia online bank which was established and is presently owned by Vancouver City Credit Union. The subsidiary of the largest credit union has assets of about $1.9 billion and services 30.000 individual and business customers. Till 2009, the bank offered a variety of financial products and services among which: bank accounts, tax-free savings, loans and lines of credit, term deposits, commercial mortgages, and others. At present, Citizens Bank of Canada has made a major move toward limiting the range of offered services focusing on products such as credit cards, prepaid consumer cards, and foreign exchange services intended for non-retail clients. Furthermore, the bank has an extensive and reliable ATM network; banking may be done via the 24-hour Service Centre.

The first hints for the big transformation came in November 2008 when the Citizens Bank Canada closed its Brokers Services Division. Spokeswoman Rosetta Cannata said that the market was brining less business opportunities. Then, as a follow-up to downsizing, Citizen’s Bank sold the majority of its consumer loans, residential mortgages, and real estate credit lines to Toronto Dominion Bank. As of August 2009, the banking entity is no longer opening bank accounts while current term deposits are not renewed. With the sale came the closing of three branches in Toronto, Calgary, and Vancouver. Savings and chequing accounts could be transferred to Vancouver City Credit Union or any banking institution of the client’s choice. In a similar manner, savings plans had to be transferred to another bank. Term deposits were to be served until they reached maturity.

Vancity did not disclose the value of the transaction, but President and CEO Mrs. Vrooman welcomed the decision in bringing back capital that would improve the services offered by the credit union. Vroomen explained that although Citizen’s Bank Canada had been the pioneer of Canadian online banking, ‘it’s become a crowded marketplace.’ According to the bank’s President, the nation-wide online market had proven a difficult place to succeed for a community-oriented, local entity such as Citizens Bank.

The bank was established by Vancouver City Credit Union in 1997 as the first branchless banking institution, offering internet and phone financial services. In 2007, the bank offered Shared World term deposits that were invested in microcredit programs, focusing entirely on developing states. Term deposits were non-redeemable, one year deposits offered for investments of at least $100. Deposits were administered jointly with the Calvert Social Investment Foundation and invested in a portfolio of cooperative and non-governmental organizations such as the Global Bridge Fund.

Again in 2007, the Citizens Bank of Canada announced its ‘green mortgages’. Together with Green$aver and the Conservation Council of Ontario, the bank offered competitive mortgages and eco-friendly products. Each holder was entitled to a Green$aver Home Energy Audit registration discount, product samples, as well as coupons for car-sharing, renewable power, and other green products. Their total retail value stood at more than $800. As a supporter of environmental programs, Citizens Bank of Canada has become the only banking institution with publicly expressed position on some of the major environmental and social issues. As a partner of Amnesty International, the bank issues Amnesty International Visa and with each issuance donates $20 to the human rights projects of the foundation. Every time customers use their cards, $0.10 is donated for human rights. Amnesty International Visa is available to all Canadian nationals except for Quebec residents. Last but not least, the bank announced its firm commitment to reduce and eliminate CO2 emissions by 2010.

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