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Francisco González: “The next step for BBVA is create its own ecosystem”

BBVA's executive chairman Francisco González took part in a presentation in Madrid of Dr. Peter Weill's new book, ‘What's Your Digital Business Model?’ Professor Weill is chair and senior research scientist for the Center for Information Systems Research (CISR) at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

The book, co-authored with his fellow MIT CISR research scientist Stephanie Woerner, aims to provide a benchmark framework to guide companies as they face the challenge of transformation. BBVA is cited in the book for its exemplary way of confronting cultural change and how it has used technology to reinvent financial services. The book's title is one of six questions that Weill and Woerner pose to any executive trying to effectively manage a company's digitization.

Peter Weill said, “We tell the BBVA story in the book because the company has tackled the digital challenge on a global scale. It has turned the digital threat into an opportunity and its growth in both customer satisfaction and digital sales suggest it is transforming successfully.”

In a conversation with Francisco González, Weill asked him about some of the topics addressed in the book, such as the threats and opportunities that come with the digital age. In the context of the financial sector, the BBVA chairman thinks "The opportunities are huge though not for everybody. In the digital age there is room for a limited number of players."

Regarding the Group’s business model, Francisco González explained that BBVA draws on in-depth knowledge about its customers and has made it a priority to offer its services across all channels. The next step will be to manage the ecosystem, using customer data in a more intelligent manner for the benefit of the customers. The ecosystem or platform will allow BBVA to offer the best possible tailored products and services available to their customers, he said.

Asked about the bank's main digital competitive advantages, he pointed out three: "A clear vision," "anticipation" in the execution, "we have gained time and you can not buy" and a "talented team with the right corporate culture.”

These advantages have translated into direct, tangible business results for BBVA. Digital sales already account for more than 39 percent of the total, and the bank can boast that in six of its major markets, it is the bank most recommended by customers. In only the year to June, the number of digital customers grew 26 percent to 25.1 million. Of these, mobile customers increased by 43 percent to 20.7 million. The figures suggest that before the end of the year 50 percent of customers across the BBVA Group will be digital (a fact that is already true in six of the countries where it operates). In 2019, the goal is for 50 percent of the customer base to use mobile channels on a regular basis.

Weill also asked whether the bank has the critical skills required for reinvention. BBVA's chairman believes so, especially since May 2015 when the transformation process took on greater momentum resulting in the current organizational structure and a new corporate culture.

Francisco González concluded by reflecting on the lessons learned after ten years into the transformation process: "To have the right strategy is essential and once you have it, the vision is clear, you need to persevere," he said. "And having the right vision is relatively easy, the true challenge is execution."