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Fintech 24 Oct 2017

Lessons from Las Vegas: converge and move quickly

You have to move quickly to bring the future within reach. That’s why I am at Money 20/20 in Las Vegas. It’s an event full of young startups and transformative ideas that will change and evolve rapidly. They discover and understand what needs to change in the world of financial services and use technology to innovate. This is where what will be the next big thing in banking is being discussed.


Whenever I can, I always try to make room in my schedule to engage with startups, their momentum and their way of working. If there’s anything I’ve noticed (although nothing lasts forever in the innovation world) it’s that now, more than ever, the key is in the convergence of different technologies and capabilities to create new experiences through which users move uninterrupted, in order to make their lives easier. Access to a massive amount of data – with prior consent from customers – together with the use of new technologies (biometrics, blockchain or machine learning) makes it possible to create incredible experiences and solutions for users while blurring the boundaries among the different industries.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the topics that was discussed the most at Money 20/20. For me, AI has little to do with science fiction or robots. It’s actually more about developing computer programs capable of doing tasks that used to require human intelligence. The programs continue to learn while completing the task – like understanding images, voice recognition, simultaneous translation of languages and – why not? – decision-making. In some ways, AI will give us “superpowers” that will allow us to enhance our intelligence and support us in decision-making in all aspects of our lives, but always from an ethical standpoint. Artificial intelligence is going from an extensive technology – sometimes considered an end in itself – to a component that is integrated in other solutions to improve them.


Money 20/20 gathered more than 4,500 companies from 85 countries this year. - Insider Images

There are already lots of examples, such as vehicles that are capable of understanding what’s happening on the road and helping your insurance adjust to how you drive. Some people here in Las Vegas are already exploring the possibility of connecting biometrics (identification technology based on the recognition of physical traits) and artificial intelligence to create solutions that can get a sense of how you’re feeling when they analyze your face and help you make unbiased financial decisions. Although some of these ideas may sound far-fetched, many are already becoming a reality, with varying degrees of progress, and were presented as products and services at Money 20/20.

Trust has always been an essential component of the banking business and it will only become more important as we move into the era of transparency"

It’s essential to remain constantly in motion, ensuring that each step forward generates greater confidence in the services users have within their reach. At BBVA, we have always understood that data should be used to benefit customers and that the solutions – based on AI or on any other technology – should help them to have greater control over their financial lives. Today, we help our customers to save more and better, see their future expenses, and make it much easier to make plans to reach their goals. And we’re just getting started. The way to find solutions for the new context has also radically changed. It’s an open world in which collaboration and competition coexist. That’s why we are working with lots of creators and innovators, expanding the variety of our internal talent, strengthening new skills like design and data engineering, and uniting knowledge hubs across the bank to create spaces for collaboration that give rise to new ideas hubs in which the different business areas and technology converge to make something new for people.

And while everything is changing and evolving, and transformation is occurring at a faster and faster pace, what endures is our focus on transforming ourselves for our customers. The more we make life easier for people, the more they will trust BBVA and the more we will be able to launch new solutions – designed internally or by one of the startups with which we have shared this time in Las Vegas. Trust has always been an essential component of the banking business and it will only become more important as we move into the era of transparency. We know that it must be strengthened on a daily basis in order to bring the age of opportunity to everyone – opportunities like those that we are starting to see here.