VersaBank is celebrating its 40th anniversary. The Bank started as Pacific Western Trust Corporation (often known as Pacific & Western Trust) in Saskatoon, SK and received its certificate of incorporation on June 11, 1979. It was granted a licence to operate on October 12, 1979.
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In the early 1990s, recognizing the potential for technology to transform the way Canadian small and medium-size businesses do banking, current VersaBank President and CEO David Taylor had a vision to create a new kind of financial institution, a branchless bank. Taylor purchased Pacific & Western Trust in 1993, which provided him with an operating licence and CDIC insurance, two elements that were necessary to launch a new, branchless banking platform. In less than a year, Taylor had established the world’s first branchless financial institution – and the foundation for Canada’s “Bank of the Future” – continually evolving its proprietary technology to efficiently and profitably address unmet needs in the Canadian financial market.
In 2002, the now well-established financial institution was granted a Schedule I Bank licence, the first in 18 years, at the time, becoming one of just 9 Canadian financial institutions with such a licence, significantly enhancing its competitive advantage and enabling it to expand its business throughout Canada. As the Bank grew and evolved, its name was rebranded to VersaBank, reflecting its versatility as a branchless financial institution and one able to quickly adapt to an ever-changing environment by continuously developing in-house innovative products and services to respond to the needs of its niche clients and to better position them to compete successfully. In 2013, public investors were able to participate in the future success of VersaBank when it was listed on the TSX.
“Canada was dominated by a few very large banks and had some niche markets that weren’t very well served,” explains Taylor. “I knew we could create an innovative bank without a need for branches that leveraged sophisticated software and technology to serve these lucrative markets that were being ignored or woefully underserved.”
Taylor’s vision continues to be realized decades later as VersaBank develops and launches innovative, high value-add offerings to meet unmet demand. In its deposit business, VersaBank created a customized banking solution for insolvency professionals that integrates with that industry’s most commonly used administrative software. This offering has become the go-to solution for this industry, with the vast majority of the Canadian market using VersaBank’s offering.
In its lending business, the Bank developed a technology-based solution that provides inexpensive access to capital for point-of-sale loan and lease partners, allowing them, and their own retail customers to drive growth of their own businesses. VersaBank is currently beta-testing a new point-of-sale application for home and condo developers in the real estate industry.
Always with an eye on the future trends and opportunities, VersaBank, through its Washington, D.C.-based subsidiary, DRT Cyber, developed and launched VersaVault, leveraging its banking roots and capabilities for the next wave of technology-based banking opportunities. VersaVault allows customers to conveniently, securely and privately store their digital valuables, including cryptocurrencies, in the digital equivalent of a safety deposit box – an area of increasingly high demand. DRT Cyber is now focused on a range of innovative solutions to support business and government in managing the myriad of cyber security threats.
“It’s fascinating how a small trust company that started 40 years ago in Saskatoon, SK ended up being a key element in our ability to build a fully digital Schedule I bank that has a proven ability to continually identify unmet market needs and develop innovative banking solutions that make a difference,” adds Taylor. “The model has evolved and changed to deal with market conditions over the years, but we’re still providing innovative financial solutions to profitably address underserved segments of the Canadian banking market.”
VersaBank adopted an electronic B2B (business-to-business) branchless model in 1993, becoming the world’s first branchless financial institution. It holds a Canadian Schedule I chartered bank licence and obtains its deposits, and the majority of its loans and leases, electronically. VersaBank’s Common Shares trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol VB and its Series 1 Preferred Shares and Series 3 Preferred Shares trade under the symbols VB.PR.A. and VB.PR.B. respectively.