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Finance> Financial system> Digital banking Updated: 04 Jan 2021

Peio Belausteguigoitia: “Investment in technology proved critical to an agile response to the crisis”

According to a report by Smartme Analytics, BBVA’s app has the largest share of users at 22.6%. BBVA’s country manager for Spain, Peio Belausteguigoitia, stressed that “investment in technology in recent years enabled a rapid reaction to the crisis.” Peio made these comments at the 27th Meeting of the Financial Sector, with the theme ‘Building the Future’, hosted by Deloitte and ABC (a leading Spanish newspaper), while speaking about the role of the financial sector in the crisis and its future challenges.

BBVA’s Country Manager for Spain said investment in technology proved critical to a rapid response to households, businesses and the wider community. It helped us roll with the first punches of the crisis. “We are pleased that our clients and society as a whole are aware of this effort,” stressed Peio Belausteguigoitia, speaking at a round table moderated by Juan Pérez de Ayala, a partner at Deloitte, which also included Rami Aboukhair, CEO of Banco Santander Spain.

BBVA’s country manager in Spain thinks the starting point for recovery today is better than after the 2008 crisis. Households and companies carry less debt, banks are in a stronger capital position, and the New Generation EU funds offer Spain a great opportunity. “We face a tough challenge. The impact in 2021 is at stake, and we need to lay the foundations for the years to come and the country’s future,” he said.

From left to right: Peio Belausteguigoitia, BBVA country manager in Spain; Juan Pérez de Ayala, partner at Deloitte; and Rami Aboukhair, CEO of Banco Santander España.

Both speakers agreed that the latest news about the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is “very positive” for the economy. Belausteguigoitia said “this is the boost of optimism we needed.” Especially, “businesses needed this news so they could make investment decisions.”

The main challenge faced by banks is to “make customers fall in love”

During his speech, Belausteguigoitia highlighted the key changes the financial industry has seen in recent years. In his view, in “this highly competitive industry” the key is to “make the customer fall in love” by “delighting them” with useful aids for financial decision-making. Now that interest rates in Europe are in negative territory and banks face increased regulatory requirements and competition both inside and outside the industry, “growing the number of customers and bolstering loyalty is our opportunity for growth and our absolute priority,” he stated.

BBVA’s country manager for Spain explained that, for a bank like BBVA, the opportunities lie in organic growth, via key levers such as digitalization, personalized advice and excellent risk management. Seven out of every ten BBVA customers in Spain are already digital. This shows higher demand for digital services and a shift in the way customers relate to their bank.

He also touched on the fact that Spanish SMEs—if they show the talent they demonstrated in the previous crisis—now have an opportunity to explore new markets, generate more sales and win new customers. “This is an opportunity that opens up for them in terms of return on investment facing the future.”

Answering questions on the industry consolidation process in Spain and merger talks between BBVA and Sabadell, Belausteguigoitia relayed the details given in the price-sensitive disclosure or hecho relevante submitted to CNMV, Spain’s market supervisor. He then referred to the sale of BBVA’s US subsidiary, announced yesterday, as a “major deal.”

Belausteguigoitia thinks banks have evolved, and their mission now goes far beyond fulfilling a financial intermediary role. “We are making a clear, decisive and necessary bid for sustainability,” he said.