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Digital banking Updated: 14 Jan 2020

It’s all about the ecosystem

One of the core themes BBVA has been exploring at the Money20/20 U.S. event this year has been the power of networks.


What the bank means by this is how it supports a connected ecosystem within and increasingly beyond the financial services sector.

It does this because BBVA understands that to grow and supports the needs and ambitions of its customers, clients and colleagues, the business needs more than just itself.

While the bank can and does build world class products and services itself - such as the BBVA banking app, which has been voted as the worlds best by Forrrester for two years in a row, with Garanti in Turkey securing second spot - it won’t always be able to build everything.

In fact what BBVA is clear on is that neither should it want to do that. This was one of the reasons that the business took a first mover position when it came to opening up its APIs to third parties.

While regulation in Europe has forced banks to do this - under the PSD2 directive - BBVA moved ahead of the regulation coming in precisely so customers could start to see the benefits this change can bring. By allowing third parties to access customer data, with the customers explicit consent, the idea is businesses such as start up fintechs can help design products which support customers’ use of their money and data.

Returning to the theme of connected ecosystems, Money20/20 is a great opportunity to connect with those at the forefront of innovating in the fintech space.

One of the ways in which BBVA supported the ecosystem this year was through the BBVA Open Talent competition.

Last week the bank announced who the winners had been for 2018 programme, including Sedicii for the Fintech for Future category, ChargeAfter in the Fintech for People category and Dunforce in the Fintech for Business section.

A ‘window’ to the innovation ecosystem

This week, the bank took the six winners and finalists out to Las Vegas for Money20/20 to help them to grow their business in what is one of the worlds biggest ‘shop windows’ for financial services.

As well as each getting the chance to pitch their ideas on stage in front of an audience of industry leaders, the startups also got time to run dedicated stands where they could meet potential customers and forge partnerships.

For overall BBVA Open Talent winner Sedicci, who specialises in anonymising people’s identity so they can prove who they are without revealing the secret data, CEO Rob Leslie  said it was an opportunity he welcomed.

He said: “We have made so many connections here, I mean literally it would have taken us five years to do this without coming here. We are very grateful to BBVA for organising it, and for picking us as the overall best fintech solution in BBVA Open Talent, and giving us the chance to connect into the bank itself, because all this has helped us accelerate our business so quickly.”

It was a view shared by Ksenia Semenova from Cindicator, a groundbreaking AI powered asset management tool for business, she said simply: “I honestly don’t know how many meetings I’ve had over the past few days, it’s been dozens - it’s been an amazing conference for us. I don’t know why any startup wouldn’t enter this competition.”

But as well as the external startups, BBVA also drives disruption in the industry through its own fintech startups, like those being built within New Digital Businesses such as Covault, which offers a new token based biometric approach to digital identity protection, and who was represented at the conference by CEO Louie Gasparini.

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Ian Ormerod, Head of New Digital Businesses en BBVA, during panel session with fintech experts 11:FS at Money20/20 U.S.

The Head of New Digital Businesses, Ian Ormerod, was also on stage at the conference as part of a panel session with fintech experts 11:FS.

One of the areas Ormerod touched on during his talk was the launch of BBVA’s Open Platform business - the first full suite banking as a service platform to launch in the U.S.

Ormerod explained how for BBVA, BaaS was the right thing to do because it fundamentally supported the wider fintech ecosystem.

He added that: “Open banking is one enabler for building out better connected ecosystems, where the focus is absolutely on providing the best customer experience and ensuring that whether it is you, in our case BBVA, or a partner, it is the customer that ultimately benefits by being able to use the innovations we are seeing being built.”

Trends and emerging technologies

As well as connecting with people at the event, it is also a chance to scout the industry for the very latest trends and emerging technologies.

This year, undoubtedly one of the biggest areas of technology being seen revolved around independent payments and secure identity verification companies - where the customer can protect their identity on encrypted cloud servers, linked to transaction software, making paying for good and services on ecommerce platforms more secure and less vulnerable to hacking and passwords.

There was also a big focus on AI powered personal financing solutions, where customers are supported in managing their finances by algorithms that track spending and predict where and how customers should save money to ensure they don’t get into debt.

But by far the biggest trend was simply how many of the companies displaying needed open banking APIs for their products to work at their most effective.

In other words, connected networks.

You can hear the full debate with Ian Ormerod on the Fintech Insider podcast, from 11:FS, from Monday.