“Technology and data are the key ingredients, together with people, to drive the sustainability agenda”
BBVA Group executive chairman Carlos Torres Vila participated in this year’s virtual edition of South Summit, the leading fintech event, where he spoke about the challenges facing the banking sector and financial technology in a post-COVID-19 world. “If we are going to have a rapid recovery, the only way is with a model of sustainable and inclusive development,” he added. “Technology and data are the key ingredients, together with people –all of you entrepreneurs who produced ideas– to drive the sustainability agenda.”
During this virtual edition of South Summit, the Group’s chairman voiced sustainability as one the areas to collaborate with the innovation ecosystem, through technology and data aiming at promoting a transition to a more sustainable world.
The BBVA Group has already taken some substantial steps to promote a sustainable future, he added. Between 2018 and 2019, it secured about €30 billion in sustainable investments and finance, and is a pioneer in the social and green bond markets. Also, the bank recently became the first financial institution in Europe to launch a social bond linked to COVID-19.
BBVA has also been the first bank in the world in the use of data analytics to allow companies to measure the carbon emissions of their daily activities thanks to a new feature in the One View solution, which gives users the possibility of gathering all bank accounts in one single place. The invitation to collaborate with the innovation ecosystem announced at South Summit aims to deepen this line of work, developing new tools and solutions to know and improve the environmental impact of clients and society as a whole.
The chairman also explained how the pandemic has proven that BBVA was spot on when it defined its digital and technological strategy, as it has allowed it to keep catering to its customers’ needs with the same quality of service, even during the hardest days of the lockdown. Carlos Torres Vila added that most of the sales are made through digital channels. In fact, in April, digital sales already accounted for 67 percent of the total number of transactions. For the first time ever, sales in terms of value also surpassed transactions completed through other channels, representing 51 percent of the total. The economic value of a transaction is calculated factoring in the future revenue from a banking product or service – which vary throughout their service life – and it is not equivalent to the revenue registered at the moment of the original sale. At his previous appearance at South Summit last year, the chairman had anticipated that in 2020 digital sales would surpass the rest of sales in economic value.
Participants during the virtual edition of South Summit this Wednesday.
Carlos Torres Vila also summarized the bank’s priorities during the crisis. “From the beginning, we focused on protecting people’s health” and secondly, "helping our clients through this difficult period”, especially the most vulnerable who were affected by COVID-19. In his opinion, “the best way to reconstruct is to minimize the amount of destruction” of the pandemic. And banks can do so through financing and support for their clients.
During his fireside chat, Carlos Torres Vila highlighted the importance of being disruptive in big corporations, avoiding the risk of lagging behind in terms of innovation. “We want to embed innovation in everything we do,” he added. “We are promoting a culture that encourages and fosters disruption to take the steps needed to change things. We need to awaken the entrepreneur in every single person. Entrepreneurship is the engine that creates the future.”
The way BBVA addresses innovation is deeply connected to collaborating with ‘startups’ and entrepreneurs. Today more than ever the focus is on searching for ways to co-create innovative solutions through collaboration with startups.
In fact, in 2019 BBVA held meetings with 300 startups. The bank conducted up to 19 pilot tests and commercially deployed four projects that became part of BBVA’s current roster of services. This is the case of Saeko, a Mexican startup that helped BBVA develop a specific value proposition for Mexican college students; or Izipay in Peru, which came up with a Point-of-Sale solution to allow small businesses and BBVA clients to get started with card payments.