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Vancity shifts Citizens Bank focus to Visa card services and foreign exchange

Vancity shifts Citizens Bank focus to Visa card services and foreign exchange

Vancouver, August 5, 2009 – In a strategic shift to continue to grow its business and better serve the needs of members, Vancity announced today that Citizens Bank, its online banking subsidiary, will focus its operations on Visa *card services, and foreign exchange services for non-retail members.

Citizens Bank will leave the personal banking marketplace and therefore Vancity has entered into an agreement to sell the majority of the bank's retail loans to The Toronto-Dominion Bank (“TD Canada Trust”). The value of the transaction will not be disclosed, but Vancity President and CEO, Tamara Vrooman, says it is a good business decision because it returns capital that can be reinvested to enhance member services at the credit union. It also focuses Citizens Bank on what it does best.

“We pioneered online banking in Canada, but it's become a crowded marketplace,” says Vrooman. “Our members have told us repeatedly that they want us to focus on our core strengths. We're local, we're community-focused, and our offering is based on building relationships and providing service. In a national, online market, we were unable to achieve the scale necessary to succeed. Therefore, the bank's business model wasn't making full use of our strengths.”

“This decision simplifies and strengthens our core business and continues Vancity's transformation to a more streamlined and focused organization—a true B.C. success story,” Vrooman says.

“Maintaining great service for members who currently have mortgages or loans remains a top priority, and I know that TD Canada Trust shares our commitment to making the account transition a comfortable experience,” Vrooman adds.

The sale, which closed today, includes Citizens Bank residential mortgages, personal loans and real estate secured lines of credit.

This means:

  • Citizens Bank will become a non-deposit-taking bank focused on Visa credit card services, and foreign exchange services for non-retail members.
  • Citizens Banks' three boutique branches in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto will close in December of 2009.
  • Most members who currently have mortgages or loans with Citizens Bank will see their accounts transferred to TD Canada Trust. For the time being, until conversion in early 2010, Citizens Bank will continue to service these accounts. Customers can continue to call 1-888-708-7800 or visit for service on these accounts.
  • Savings and chequing account members will be free to transfer their accounts to Vancity in B.C., or to another financial institution of their choice.
  • Term deposits not in RRSPs or other registered accounts will be serviced until they mature and then paid out.
  • Registered savings plans will need to be transferred to another financial institution of the member’s choice, however existing term deposits will remain at CB until maturity.
  • Members with group insurance on credit products will continue to have coverage for the period Citizens Bank is servicing the business until conversion in early 2010.
  • In commercial lending, CB employees will continue to service existing loans outside of B.C. and new loans will be underwritten by Vancity within B.C.

None of Citizens Bank's 30,000 members need to take any immediate action. Citizens Bank will work closely with each member to minimize any inconvenience and provide the support they need to transfer their business over the coming months.

* Visa Int./Citizens Bank of Canada, Licensed User.

About Vancouver City Savings Credit Union

Vancity is Canada's largest credit union, with $14.5 billion in assets, more than 400,000 members, and 60 branches throughout Greater Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Victoria and Squamish. Vancity is guided by a commitment to improving the quality of life in the communities where we live and work.

For further information, please contact:
Karen Berkhout