Being capable of turning any piece of information – numbers, documents, sounds, photos, etc. – into a string of zeros and ones and sharing it with the masses thanks to technology is one of the defining traits of the digital era.
Increased capacity and speed, lower costs and mounting volumes of data have triggered an innovation-multiplying process that is allowing companies to generate more value and consumers to enjoy higher standards of living, thanks to their improved ability to weigh and choose quality-price among more products, from more suppliers. And the banking industry is not immune to this transformation.
According to Eduardo Olivares, Head of Digital Banking Division at BBVA Chile, an institution that is part of the BBVA global financial group, “the biggest challenge that banks face is adapting to this new scenario, and success, to a large extent, will depend on improving customer insight and our understanding of generational changes, and also on the product offering we are capable of delivering in real time, through multiple channels, with innovative contents.”
Another key factor will be the way in which banks are capable of becoming light-footed players to stand up to the new agents born on the internet.
For a number of years, both globally and in Chile, BBVA has been working hard – harder than almost any other player in the industry - to drive a change that is deemed both urgent and crucial: going from being an analog, efficient and profitable bank to a digital company, developing a more efficient, flexible, knowledge-based business model.
Our aim is to lead in digital banking and bring the age of opportunity to everyone
And in this process, BBVA Chile has made some substantial progress: in 2015, its BBVA Wallet app, which allows customers use their smartphones to manage all their credit and debit card transactions online, was distinguished as the most innovative in the country by Global Banking and Finance Review.
As of April 2016, the app - which is available not only in Chile, but also in the United States, Mexico, Turkey and Spain – had been downloaded over 3.5 million times globally.
BBVA Chile's digital management has earned the company recognition from a number of relevant publications and organisms, such as being shortlisted as one the 50 most innovative companies in the Innovation Perception ranking published by the Adolfo Ibáñez University and Best Place to Innovate, or earning the top spot in the financial services and online banking category in the e-Commerce Awards.
Eduardo Olivares, Head of Digital Banking of BBVA Chile
-What is BBVA doing to lead in digital banking?
-BBVA has been hard at work on its digital transformation for a number of years now: after laying the foundations of the project – the platforms – and a new and more nimble structure, now it is focusing on accelerating the development process of new products and services for the 21st century customer. And the launch of BBVA Wallet, both in Chile and some of the other markets in which the Group is present, is part of this strategy.
Our aim is perfectly conveyed in the group’s global corporate purpose, we want to ‘bring the age of opportunity to everyone.’
-And how is the bank’s digitization process going in Chile?
-Really well, with a very positive response from customers, who already see BBVA Chile as one of the leaders in digital banking thanks to our activity in recent years: in 2012 we launched one of the first native apps in Chile’s financial system; in 2013 we became the first bank to roll out a responsive website, capable of adjusting to any digital device (tablet, desktop, smartphone); and in 2014 we deployed our pioneering messaging and warning system through the bank’s app, which issues notifications to clients about service accounts nearing their expiration date, direct deposits of salaries and check deposits, etc.
We also rolled out an online customer service chat to help customers with their questions and inquiries, 24 hours a day, and originate digital sales. All this in addition to the launch of BBVA Wallet, which I mentioned before, the first app that allows customers use their smartphones to manage all their credit and debit card transactions online.
-How has this digitization process affected the business?
In 2015, sales processed through these channels increased by a factor of 4.5. In 2016, roughly 30% of consumer products are already being sold through digital channels, 75% in the case of time deposits.
On a customer level, 90% of account holders already interact with the bank through digital channels.
-What future projects are you working on?
-We are going to keep on pushing, in both Chile and the region as a whole, the digital transformation of the bank’s services and processes, to make our customers’ lives easier and bring the age of opportunity to everyone. This strategy will help us win over new customers, satisfy their needs better, offer a better service, increase our market share and improve in efficiency and profitability.