Bank's IBM 1401 was one of the first non-scientific
uses of a computer in Canada. It occupied an entire
room and was used by the bank's head office mostly for
accounting purposes such as updating branches' monthly
balance sheets, safekeeping accounting, stock transfers,
and payrolls. Pictured here, the key punch operator,
a member of the computer team at head office, records
data on an IBM card in 1962.
With MICR, cheques and deposit slips were personalized
and encoded with clients' account numbers using characters
that could be read both by the human eye and by the
sorting machine. Here an operator unloads cheques from
a "magnetic character reader," a machine that increased
the rate at which magnetically encoded data on cheques
is fed into computers.
H. Coleman, chief general manager, pressed the "start"
button of an IBM 1401, signaling the official opening
of Royal Bank's first computer centre. Now, routine
functions were performed on a larger scale outside the
branch by a special department, allowing branch staff
to focus on customer service.
Launched in Montreal Main branch's Personal Banking
Centre, the new on-line savings terminals provided highly
accurate and virtually instantaneous updates of accounts
and passbooks. The tasks of calculating interest and
service charges on hundreds of individual accounts -
as well as balancing them - were all taken over by computers.
Royal Bank first started offering monthly Personal Chequing
Account statements to its clients around 1966 - prior
to that they were distributed quarterly. A companion
ad announced to clients that "With the help of our computer,
we're able to give you even better and faster service."
By 1977, Royal Bank's branches were serviced by six
central processing centres situated in major cities
across the country, as well as by nine smaller area
processing centres. Pictured, opening day in 1970 of the
new computer centre in Halifax, designed to better serve
the financial needs of customers in the Maritimes.
This service would have been impossible to provide without
automation. The application of computers to banking
processes revolutionized traditional banking services
and permitted the introduction of new services that
better met consumer needs.
The introduction of personal computers in branches was
perhaps the most significant change to occur in the
1980s. With this technology, branches moved from a paper-based
to an electronic environment, taking "back office" functions
out of "sales and service."
A modern laboratory, the branch served as a testing
ground for new bank products and enhanced features.
Customers could bank from their cars at two full-service
wickets staffed 24 hours a day or at two standard automated
banking machines. Mortgage and personal loans officers,
available from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., could approve most
loans on the spot and often visited customers' homes
or offices. Conventional automated banking machines
were supplemented with prototype terminals that tested
new features. There was even a machine that counted
MFRP Access distributes mutual fund information online
to RBC Royal Bank branches and call centres in a standardized
format and through a streamlined process that results
in faster customer service.