BBVA COO Carlos Torres Vila spoke this Tuesday at the Innovate, Connect and Transform (ICT) conference held in Lisbon, where he said that the transformation of the financial industry is not only based on digitizing financial services, but also on reshaping the customer’s experience.

In this environment he said that “at BBVA we believe that we have a great opportunity ahead of us to make the most of the possibilities afforded by this new ecosystem and help our customers manage their financial lives better with tools, information, and value-added products and services that improve their decision-making”.

Carlos Torres Vila began his speech at the “A digital single market: the keys to European industry’s leadership in the digital economy” conference, which was opened by the European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, Günther Oettinger, who reflected on the period of major changes we are going through, changes that are being driven by technology, the amount of data available, new social behaviors and digital tools, as well as the fewer barriers to entry, which are creating a more competitive environment.

Technology is transforming all industries by leaps and bounds. And the banking industry is not excluded from this transformation”, pointed out Carlos Torres Vila, who explained how it is already affecting the banking business.

“In payments, we are already seeing how all transactions tend to take place in real time (immediate payments), seek to offer more convenience to users (through cell phones or apps) and access to all. In finance, the social media have taken one step further, with new alternatives for loans (P2P, crowdfunding). As regards investments, asset management is also benefiting from digitization. And any investor can have access to robo-advisers for their portfolios. Other key activities in banking, such as data management (Big Data), digital identification of customers and security (cybersecurity), are also being affected”.

How BBVA is tackling digital transformation

In this environment, Carlos Torres Vila said that “at BBVA we believe that we have a great opportunity ahead of us to make the most of the possibilities afforded by this new ecosystem and help our customers manage their financial lives better with tools, information, and value-added products and services that improve their decision-making.” “The transformation of the financial industry is not only based on digitizing financial services, but also on reshaping the customer’s experience.” Digital innovation will help people manage their money better,” he said.

“Technology is having a profound impact on customer expectations and promoting new behaviors, and is opening them to innovative value propositions,” he pointed out.

According to BBVA’s COO, banks need to transform their businesses in order to compete in this new environment: “We need to think about other ways of approaching our customers.” “The new context offers great opportunities if we are able to make the most of data, design, technology and processes to develop better products and services for our customers. There is a huge amount of value to be captured,” he said.

“For this reason,” he added, “we are not only investing in IT platforms and infrastructures, but we are also changing the bank internally. We have organized the company around a new set of core competencies that will be essential to succeed in the future: design, Big Data, digital sales, processes and software, and cultural change.”

Carlos Torres Vila stressed that to BBVA digital is not a destination, but a journey. “It is not an isolated project or a function, or even a budget. It is about managing a sweeping change across the organization, in the way the company carries out its everyday activity and, therefore, we all have to be involved in this process.”

Regulatory framework

The strategy for a Digital Single Market (DSM) can potentially create a regulatory framework that will provide the European economy with a competitive edge and a position of leadership in the global digital economy. “The financial sector should play a relevant role in the economy of this Digital Single Market,” said the COO.

Carlos Torres Vila, @bbva COO: “Technology is transforming all industries by leaps and bounds

“This strategy should integrate a regulatory framework and harmonize the standards of all financial service providers (both new participants and current incumbents) in the digital economy.” “This would establish a secure and stable environment for our customers and for the entire economy, and would enable us to use all the new technologies and offer innovative and value-added products and services.”

“This regulatory framework should consider a variety of aspects of the financial industry’s services, the most relevant being the use of Big and Smart data, cross-border transactional systems, electronic identification (to fulfill the requirements of KYC –Know Your Customer– regulations in all digital relations) and electronic signatures (digital sales), as well as a cybersecurity framework for banks and insurance companies.”

BBVA’s support for startups

In the same context and in a subsequent panel on startups, BBVA’s COO mentioned how thanks to these companies, many and varied industries have been disrupted, discovering new and more convenient services that consumers have adopted in great numbers. And he pointed out Instagram in photography; whatsApp, Facebook or Skype in communications; and Wikipedia in information, as a few examples.

“In all cases, they share common features: innovators that have created fresh and different solutions, with better experiences for the customers because they have achieved exponential growth, attracting millions of customers and creating millions of jobs,” explained Carlos Torres Vila.

BBVA’s vision in this regard is clear. The bank has designed an ambitious transformation strategy where one of the pillars is the startup ecosystem. “We are convinced that the key is to work very closely with the startup community to transform the financial services industry and offer better experiences to the customers.”

BBVA has extensive experience in this regard. In recent years it has been working in several areas. “We have set up a New Digital Businesses area, which focuses on innovation contests around the world (Open Talent); our investments in startups (BBVA Ventures); an open platform strategy to enable startups to use our infrastructure to build their businesses (Dwolla); as well as the acquisition of companies and digital capabilities that reinforce the transformation roadmap (Simple, Madiva, Spring Studio).” “BBVA’s commitment to the startup ecosystem will continue to grow as an essential pillar of the bank’s strategy,” stressed Carlos Torres Vila.