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Carlos Torres Vila 31 Oct 2019

Carlos Torres Vila: “The free flow of data would foster innovation and competition”

BBVA’s Group executive chairman participated in the Money 20/20 conference on financial technologies in Las Vegas, Nevada (U.S.), one of the most  important global events that brings together leading actors from the fintech and financial services industries. There he reiterated the need for “global, cross sector regulation” that fosters data exchange among different companies. “Customers must be the real winners,” insisted Torres Vila, stressing the idea that the free flow of data would facilitate the development of new services that will benefit citizens, society and the planet.

In his presentation at Money 20/20, Carlos Torres Vila explained how some companies’ business models are currently based on accumulating and monopolizing the data they obtain from their customers, which is hindering important advances.

“Data and technology can – and should – be used used to create a more sustainable world, significantly contributing to address two major concerns: the climate crisis and the social challenges related to inequality,” Torres Vila said.

For BBVA, the use of data is an essential accelerator to advance its strategy of helping its customers make the best financial decisions so they can accomplish their goals, in life or in business. But Torres Vila believes that we need to go a step further. “Imagine that companies – banks or other companies – could have access to the data their customers generate on other platforms. They could use the data to better support their customers in many aspects of their lives, or to promote companies adopting a more sustainable approach,” BBVA’s Group executive chairman explained.

But the current situation is not conducive to this data sharing, and the digital giants are accumulating more and more data, thanks to services with a high added value. They are reinforcing their position, creating economies of scale and joining new business areas. “That’s why I think it makes sense that data hoarders are forced to share their data with other companies. The only limit to this should be consent and privacy, and that’s because data is an extension of the individual’s identity: the places you have been, what you like, what you buy, etc.,” he underscored.

“With data freed to flow, more companies can use it, spurring on innovation and driving competition,” BBVA’s Group executive chairman argued.  He insists that opening up access to the data big tech companies possess would be a better alternative than splitting up these digital giants to avoid abusive positions in the market, as some are proposing.

“So all in all, customers will, and must be the winners,” emphasized Torres Vila, who is calling for “global, cross sector regulation” that follows the path set by PSD2 in Europe, which forced banks to share data in real time, provided this is what customers want, through secure, direct and standardized channels.

“While PSD2 created some backlash amongst banks in Europe, I think it is a great idea and should be extended to all data, in all sectors from telecoms to online purchases, and e-commerce to travel, anything,” he said.

Torres Vila ended his presentation by recalling how international coordination to introduce uniform global regulation in the financial sector has already taken place through the Financial Stability Board. “The G20 should promote the same with regards to the whole digital world, data in particular, to ensure everyone can benefit from the tremendous opportunities the digital revolution can, and will, bring.”

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