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The Economist: BBVA Reinvents Itself as a Digital Business

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One of the world’s most respected publications, The Economist, has written up an article on BBVA entitled “BBVA, A Spanish Bank, Reinvents itself as a Digital Business’. The focus of the piece is on the steps BBVA is taking to transform itself into the bank of the future, and the reasons for doing this.

The Economist quotes BBVA’s Chairman, Francisco González, as saying that he believes that sooner or later the giants of the Internet - Google, Amazon, Facebook - will be BBVA’s main rivals.

Quoting BBVA’s Chairman, the article states: “Because the digital world doesn’t allow many competitors, in 20-years the ranks of banks worldwide could be thinned from thousands to dozens, which will need scale to survive.

Francisco González: “Wariness of regulation may delay the e-behemoths, but not for ever. If you are not prepared for this precise moment, and you are not as efficient as they are, you are dead.”

The story goes on to examine BBVA’s digital strategy and the products and services that demonstrate the work being done.

The article states that the top brass in the bank, like BBVA CEO Carlos Torres Vila, believe that BBVA’s growing repository of information about its customers, plus the trust that comes from tending their money, gives it an advantage over the tech giants.

Therein, the story adds, lies a chance to become an online marketplace for financial services, including those of third parties - and perhaps non-financial services too.

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BBVA Group Executive Chairman, Francisco González.

Next year the EU’s new Payment Services Directive, known as PSD2, will open up customer data, exposing banks to competition from each other and from outsiders.

The Economist says: “BBVA’s bosses insist that, for their bank, PSD2 is more opportunity than threat.”

As a tangible example, The British publication references Valora, BBVA’s home buying insight service.

The article states: “Valora, BBVA’s app for Spanish homebuyers, indicates the bank’s direction. It tells you the likely price of the house you fancy, how much others nearby were sold for and what your own might fetch - all data pulled in from elsewhere".

“It assesses the damage to your monthly budget and of course steers you to BBVA for a mortgage. People using BBVA’s mortgage simulator are twice as likely to take out a loan if they go through Valora.”

The text outlines the processes that underpin BBVA’s Global Quarterly Planning sessions and the agile methodology that defines them.

The article states: “The idea", explains Derek White global Head of Customer and Client Solutions, "is to replicate the nimbleness of financial technology startups - fintechs - at large scale.

“When a project is conceived, a small group is assembled to work on it within three days. A prototype is created in six weeks. The finished article should be “en los manos de los clientes” - in customers hands -   within nine-months. The quarterly cycle starts with a planning session to thrash out priorities. It ends with a demo-day, start-up style.”

The Economist also notes that certain analysts still wanto to see more impact of all this digital transformation on the financial figures the bank publishes.

“It takes four or five years to have a substantially different business," Carlos Torres Vila says. A good flow of digital products will take time to show a return.  By then, if BBVA's vision comes true, "the tech giants may by then be parked on BBV A’s lawn. At least it will be expecting them," The Economist says.

To read the full article, visit The Economist here.

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