In a conversation with journalist Gloria Lomana at the Forbes Summit, BBVA’s Group Executive Chairman offered his view of the transformation being provoked by the digital revolution. According to Francisco González, this fourth industrial revolution is going to change the world and offer opportunities to everyone.
The BBVA executive chairman declared himself to be “a technological optimist.” In his view, in the short term, technological change implies the loss of jobs and creates uncertainty in traditional sectors. But in the medium and long term, he predicted, technology will significantly increase productivity and drive growth.
Francisco González called attention to the importance of active management of change by the public sector powers during this transitional period, in order to protect people, and not the jobs that will become obsolete; this will achieve a better distribution of wealth.
The essential factors in this period will be investment in human capital, talent management, active employment policies and a long-term perspective. In this regard, he said, there isn´t a problem of employment, but of training: there is an enormous unmet demand for people specialized in new technologies. For example, he said, a million jobs are needed in the cybersecurity field.
One example of the magnitude of the change and the disruptive potential of the digital revolution is the banking industry. BBVA began its transformation process ten years ago and now is fully into the execution phase, Francisco González said.
At present, 15 million of the bank´s 20 million digital customers work with their mobile phones, and their degree of satisfaction is “extremely high,” the executive chairman said. As an example of a new product, he pointed to BBVA Bconomy, which offers customers information about their financial health, based on big data and artificial intelligence. BBVA Bconomy has already been used by more than 610,000 customers.
As for the future of the sector, Francisco González predicted that the competition will be reduced to a few players, BBVA among them. Currently, he said, there are more than 20,000 banks in the world; in 10 or 15 years, there will be hundreds, and in 20 years, the figure will be reduced to dozens. In the future, the executive chairman said, BBVA will become a global platform with financial and non-financial products, as well as products from third parties, all personalized and aggregated for its customers.
Francisco González also gave his views on the global geopolitical scenario, in which he underscored the growing leadership of China. “It´s a country of 1.3 billion people, and a great economic success. Today, it´s the second-ranked world power, but by 2030, it will be the first,” he said.
China, the BBVA executive chairman said, is leading the displacement of the global order from west to east, a process accelerated by two fundamental factors: one is demographic and the other, the fact that the technological gap between the western countries and Southeast Asia is fast closing, as a result of the digital revolution. “Asia is moving much more rapidly than the western world,” Francisco Gonzalez said.