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Internet 26 Sep 2016

Digitization: a priority for growth

BBVA now has 16 million digital customers, up 21% from the first half of last year, and 10.2 million mobile customers, up 45% year-on-year. The bank is also developing a wide range of products and services, including digitized traditional products like mortgages, insurance and loans, as well as native products like Wallet, Link and Wibe.

BBVA has also taken advantage of technology to boost digital sales. In the first half of the year, the number of digital transactions increased 12.3% in Mexico, 14.3% in South America and 14.7% in Spain.

BBVA has proven to be a pioneer in the transformation of the banking industry, staying a step ahead in an area that is becoming a priority for growth. In fact, the ECLAC recently indicated that “only the digitization of the economy will bring sustainable long-term growth” at its Conference on Science, Innovation and Information and Communication Technologies in Costa Rica.

ECLAC Member States agreed on the need to take a leap forward in the use of new technologies in the region’s productive processes. They also stressed that countries’ competitiveness and future growth will depend on their integration in the global digital economy. Participants underscored that governments should become a force for digital innovation and that, “Latin America and the Caribbean must generate its own model for an integrated, cross-border digital market, which would serve to boost and consolidate the expansion of the digital economy and foster scale in innovative business ventures.”

However, the ECLAC revealed that spending on research and development (R&D) in the region is minimal, not exceeding 0.5% of countries’ GDP, with the exception of Brazil, which invests around 1.2% of its Gross Domestic Product (2013).

Major progress in Internet access

Internet access is essential to progress in digitization processes. The 2016 ECLAC report, Broadband in Latin America and the Caribbean, indicates that Internet access has nearly doubled in the last five years. At the end of 2015, 43.4% of region’s households had Internet connections.

According to the report, the percentage of Internet users compared to the total population in Latin America grew 10.6% annually from 2010 to 2015. This increase narrowed the gap with Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries from a difference of 37.2% in 2010 to 25.2% in 2015. Access to broadband connections also increased significantly, especially on cell phones, which jumped from 7% to 58% in this five year period.

ECLAC reports, however, that quality issues remain, as no country has at least 5% of its connections with speeds over 15Mbsp, while this percentage is 50% in developed countries. There are also problems of equal access to the Internet, as access varies depending on the population’s location and socioeconomic situation. In fact, there is a 41% difference in Internet penetration between urban and rural areas in the country with the biggest gap in the region.

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