The rules of the game are changing more and more quickly. Some authors refer to this period of change as the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Klaus Schwab, Debate 2016) with “growing harmonization and integration of many different disciplines and discoveries” that affect both the physical world (autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, robotics, etc.) and the digital world (Internet of Things, blockchain, etc.).
It is a period of change that will surely bring about many uncertainties, especially related to how quickly this process is taking place. It is a period that will also require strong leaders who are capable of understanding the entire process and taking advantage of the opportunities that will arise.
In the banking industry, our sector, we have recently seen that these changes are taking place very rapidly, from changes in regulation, which are become stricter and stricter, to restructuring processes excluding many players, and the arrival of new competitors capable of offering excellent service at very low costs. And all based on an actual technological revolution, where the processing and storage costs are close to zero and where data exploitation is more relevant than ever before.
What’s happening in Uruguay
If we look at ourselves, at Uruguay, we find that we are not immune to this transformation. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Uruguay is currently well-positioned in terms of ICT development. Internet use is very high in the country: more than 80% of the Uruguayan population said they use the Internet in the latest Grupo Radar 2016 survey. It also pointed to massive use of messaging services, especially WhatsApp and Facebook, and the extensive use of Google as a search engine and YouTube for audiovisual content.
"More than 80% of the Uruguayan population said they use the Internet
When taking into account the infrastructure, technology adoption and use, and regulation, Uruguay’s current digitization rate is only surpassed by Chile in the region, with levels very similar to countries like Belgium or Spain in Europe.
And if we had to describe the Internet in Uruguay, it would be that the Internet is mobile. The development of mobile coverage, data speed and mobile subscriptions have grown exponentially in recent years.
The financial sector has been no exception. Recently, the biggest banks have been adding new functions to their websites and engaging in a wide range of digital transformation processes that are cutting costs and improving customer experiences.
"To bring the age of opportunity to everyone
Different initiatives from the fintech world are also part of this change, creating more competition for the traditional system. This forces us to continue innovating and improving our products, processes, distribution channels and customer relations.
There is a clear winner in this whole process and that is the new consumer, who has much more power and a greater capacity to obtain more, and better, information to make decisions. In fact, BBVA’s purpose is aligned with our vision for the future, precisely for this new consumer: “To bring the age of opportunity to everyone”.
- BBVA Uruguay has been working on several different related initiatives including the development of digital capacities for individuals and companies, with active digitization policies. As a result, around 50,000 customers are active users in the different platforms.
- The development of one-click buying, which means that today, our individual customers can access many different promotions with having to step foot in a bank office, and with no paperwork. Digital sales are up significantly for these products.
- The remote assistance model is an evolution of the traditional customer service model of a bank office. It is designed for those customers who do not want to go to a bank branch, but need the same level of service.
The role of bank branches will remain highly relevant in Uruguay’s distribution model, but instead of being the heart of the model, customers are increasingly becoming the focus around which all engagement channels are developed.
BBVA Uruguay and employees
And while it’s true that companies are changing the way they engage with their customers, the changes taking places within the companies are also substantial.
BBVA Uruguay was selected as one of the best places to work in 2016 by Great Place to Work (GPTW). It was one of the 16 leading companies and the 5th best company with more than 150 employees. It also received a special mention for its transformation process. This is not a coincidence; it’s closely tied to working methods based on the use of available technology.