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Entrepreneurship & Startups Updated: 12 Apr 2019

"A healthy digital data ecosystem is vital to the future of financial services"

BBVA Group executive chairman outlined the importance of the shared ecosystem to building the future of financial services at the Propel Venture Partners annual summit, an event for fintech CEOs celebrated this week in San Francisco, California.

Carlos Torres Vila also reiterated that central to the growth of the sector was the need for a level playing field when it came to data.

Asked what he saw as the future of the industry, the BBVA executive highlighted the ongoing shift in the industry from closed to open ecosystems given the growing understanding that not all of the products and services clients might need can come from within your own business.

He added: “Once you accept that, and once you realise that the critically important thing is serving customers now and into the future by connecting them with the solutions for their needs, by being a trusted partner for them, then also being a good partner for the wider fintech ecosystem is essential.

“That’s the paradigm shift that BBVA is driving. So our work with the fintech sector, whether through investment, partnerships or even acquisitions, is focussed on identifying those building the best financial services products and services and then helping them connect with customers so both can grow and take advantage of the opportunities the digital world offers.”

Among the issues that were sharply in focus for him at the moment, Torres Vila said that one thing he kept returning to was the way in which digital technology, and the data that underpins it, can be truly freed to generate the maximum value we know it can.


Propel Venture Partners annual summit gathers fintech CEOs and BBVA senior leaders in San Francisco, California.

“The data belongs to the customers, and they must have the right to share it with whomever they want, across geographic and industry borders. And for the fintech sector to thrive, this data freedom is increasingly important.”

Torres Vila was joined at the event by BBVA CEO Onur Genç and BBVA U.S. CEO Javier Rodríguez Soler.

"So many of the companies we invest in are pushing boundaries around innovation and customer service.

He also explained why for him the value of entrepreneurship was so important, and one of the reasons BBVA invested $250 million into its VC fund managed by Propel Venture Partners. He added: "The fintech community is a driving force for the financial services industry, with the entrepreneurial spirit we see in so many of the companies we invest in pushing boundaries around innovation and customer service. It's a model we emulate across BBVA, and we are already seeing huge success in product and service delivery, as well as cultural change, as a result."

Asked what he got out of attending the Propel summit, he said: "It's a privilege to once again be back in San Francisco with the Propel Venture Partners team, to see their strategy for investing in action and to have the chance to meet with some of the CEOs of the companies we have invested into, and are learning from, through Propel.”

It was a view echoed by Propel Venture Partners Managing Director Ryan Gilbert, who said: “We see around 1,000 different businesses a year who pitch to us and talk us through the product or service they are developing.

“And for us, while for sure innovation is increasingly coming from all areas of the world - driven by the accelerating digital economy - San Francisco and California remain the global hotspot, and that’s why were are here.

“For us, when it comes to investment decisions, there are really two key criteria. Firstly, what is the team like, are the leadership genuine, passionate, collegiate leaders with a clear direction of intent and class leading solution.

“But secondly, will what they are doing make a real difference to people's lives and do they put the customer at the heart of their proposition. Because if they get those elements right, for us the investment opportunity becomes vastly more attractive.”