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Finance> Financial system> Digital banking Updated: 23 May 2018

''The digital era can bring great social well-being if we make progress in a new legal architecture''

BBVA Group Executive Chairman Francisco González thinks it is necessary to establish “a new global regulation," one that could benefit society as a whole with all the opportunities the digital era has to offer.  “We are living an unprecedented revolution, that could bring a never-before-seen level of well-being if we manage to make progress in a new legal architecture," he pointed out during a meeting at the Institute of International Finance (IIF) in Brussels.

Francisco González took part in a panel entitled “Views from the C-Suite: Financial Markets,” moderated by Axel Weber (UBS), together with Ana Botín (Santander), Martin Gilbert (Standard Life Aberdeen) and Jean Lemierre (BNP Paribas). During the debate, the BBVA Group Executive Chairman stressed the role of regulators in the current financial scenario.

In his opinion, the potential benefits of the digital era are huge if society arms itself with a new legal architecture that meets the challenges of the current technological revolution. A new economic and social order is in the making and this is the time to update the regulatory frame in order to ensure that the benefits of this change can reach society as a whole, he added.

The current situation where data is controlled by the tech giants and cases such as Facebook reveal the need for new regulation, the BBVA Group Chairman explained. “Whoever controls data, controls the world. If rules are not changed, a considerable part of the wealth being created will end up in the hands of a few ones and that is very negative for society as a whole.”

“Whoever controls data, controls the world"

Francisco González considers that current digital regulation offers diverging approaches from different sectors in critical areas  such as cybersecurity, cloud infrastructure, data privacy and artificial intelligence. That is why there is a growing need to create global standard-setting bodies to work on common principles.

Francisco González, BBVA’s Group Executive Chairman, during his participation in the IIF panel

During the panel, BBVA’s Group Executive Chairman also mentioned the bank’s changes. After 11 years of transformation, “we have clear evidence of the progress we have achieved.” This year, BBVA will reach a tipping point, with half of its customers interacting vía digital channels. And in 2019, 50% of the bank’s customers will do their banking via mobile devices. Customers who use digital channels are happier, he stated. “We have to turn the bank into a digital house as soon as possible”.

Asked about how artificial intelligence, machine learning and blockchain are reshaping the banking industry, he expressed his conviction of the disruption exponential technologies can create.” In his opinion, cloud computing has allowed a big growth of other exponential technologies such as artificial intelligence, which will have a considerable impact in the future of financial services. As for blockchain and DLTs, he said that they can change the rules of the banking industry.

In an interview with CNBC at the IIF meeting, Francisco González said: "Our competitors ar not going to be the banks, they will be the big tech companies and some startups. This is the new league of competitors we are envisioning in the future. So we are focusing on that and investing every year in order to be more efficient".

From left to right, Axel Weber (UBS), Ana Botín (Santander), Francisco González (BBVA), Martin Gilbert (Standard Life Aberdeen) y Jean Lemierre (BNP Paribas).