07/06/2015 12:57 EDT | Updated 07/06/2015 12:59 EDT

Canadians To Have New Bank Machines To Choose From As Manulife Bank Expands

Sean Marshall via Flickr

Canadians will soon be able to withdraw cash from bank machines owned … by an insurance company.

Well, not exactly an insurance company. While Manulife is primarily known as an insurer, it also owns a banking subsidiary with $22 billion in assets. And until now that bank only had 11 ATMs across the country.

Well that’s about to change, with Manulife’s announcement Monday it plans to open 830 automated banking machines at Mac's, Couche-Tard and Circle K stores across the country.

"Our customers have asked for greater access to ABM services," Manulife Bank CEO Rick Lunny said in a statement. "This is all about offering convenient banking near where our customers live and work."

The new ABMs will be located in all provinces except Nova Scotia and P.E.I., as well as the Northwest Territories. Cardholders of other banks can expect to pay “standard network rates” for using the machines.

However, customers of financial institutions that are part of The Exchange Network — mostly credit unions across Canada and caisses populaires in Quebec — will be charged no extra fees at the Manulife machines.

The new option for banking services comes amid rising bank fees in Canada, and concerns that those bank fees are higher than they would be if the retail banking sector were more competitive.

“As Canada’s banks have grown and prospered, questions have been raised about the competitiveness of the fees levied on consumers’ deposit accounts,” a recent report prepared for the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada found.

“The relatively high level of concentration observed in Canada’s banking sector creates the perception that the market for financial services is not as competitive as it could be; and by extension, there is some concern that a lack of competition might be contributing to fees that are less than optimal for consumers.”

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