Manulife Bank of Canada has announced it will expand its current fleet of bank machines by 830, installing the new ABMs in Mac's, Couche-Tard and Circle K convenience stores across the country by the end of September.
Right now the institution, which holds over $22 billion in assets, only has 12 ABMs across the country and its customers have been asking for more locations where they can access services, according to Manulife Bank President and CEO Rick Lunny.
"Adding 830 [bank machines] is a significant step towards enhancing our customer service," he said from his company's Waterloo office on Monday. "They're looking for more convenience."
While some believe that convenience might be found through a phone app, where an increasing number of Canadians are turning to do their day to day banking, but Lunny says cash is still king.
"You know, people talk about the decline of cash, but frankly its only declining about two per cent per year. So there is a continual need for cash withdrawals from our customer base," he said.
While the 830 new ABMs from Manulife account for only a fraction of the more than 18,000 ABMs offered nationwide by Canada's big banks, it shows the company is looking to compete and not only keep its old customers happy, but also court new ones, according to one analyst.
"What it indicates is that they do plan to have a strong presence and to get a return on this type of investment, they will have to have a strong customer base," said Chatura Ranaweera, a business professor at Wilfrid Laurier University who studies the relationships between businesses and their customers.
"Given that this is a countrywide expansion, it indicates that they may be having some growth planned for the next few years," he said.
"Offering convenience is something customers almost take for granted these days," he said. "This can only be considered positive from a relationship building perspective."
The new machines will also be linked with the Exchange Network, a fleet of surcharge-free ABMs run by a number of banks and credit unions that, with the addition of Manulife's fleet of 830 machines, will have 3,300 locations coast-to-coast.
Customers at other banks will also be able to use the machines at the standard rates, according to Manulife.