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Financial inclusion Updated: 07 Jul 2017

"The opportunities enabled by digitization give more power to customers"

The agility, price and quality of digital services benefit customers, according to BBVA Executive Director José Manuel González-Páramo. At the Young Ibero-American Leaders Convention, organized by the Carolina Foundation in Madrid, he explained the benefits of the digital age for customers, especially in Latin America where a large portion of the population does not have access to financial services. “Customers are the main beneficiaries of the technological change we are experiencing. The opportunities enabled by digitization give more power to them,” he indicated.

At a debate about the opportunities offered by digitization, he noted that “the immense agility” with which customers can be reached, “the prices that are so low” compared to the past and “the quality of services” benefit customers.

Opportunities and challenges of financial inclusion

He also made reference to the need to increase  financial inclusion in Latin America. “If we combine good regulations with better digital infrastructure – in reference to access to the Internet and broadband – and if we are able to ensure that the population has access to minimally relevant financial education, we will be in a scenario where digital improves people’s quality of life, allowing for more inclusive and sustainable growth in the medium term,” he maintained. Furthermore, for banks, financial inclusion has become “a commercially viable proposal because it lowers the costs of providing financial products, breaks down geographic barriers and enables regulatory compliance at a very low cost,” he added.

Financial inclusion has become a commercially viable proposal

Regarding the status of digitization in Latin America, José Manuel González-Páramo pointed to the region outperforming the rest of the world in young people’s use of social networks as a positive sign. However, he recalled that although the infrastructure exists, it is still “more expensive to access broadband and mobile phones” than in Europe, the U.K. or the U.S. In his opinion, another priority is to strive to reduce regulatory fragmentation and create instruments that promote digitization on a regional scale.

In terms of technological challenges like cyberattacks, he feels that if a lack of confidence in the security of digital technology prevails, adoption of new digital technologies like the cloud and artificial intelligence will fail.  Cybersecurity is therefore a critical issue.

It must be attacked from three different angles: an educational angle in terms of training and awareness raising; a corporate angle so that employees understand the risks they are facing; and a regulatory angle to insist on cooperation between authorities and the private sector on an international scale.

In this sense, has stressed the importance of trust in the relationship between companies and customers in the digital environment. "This trust is gained by having empathy with the customer," he said. Thus, "if we do not develop this empathy, we would not have trust, without trust there is no data, without data there is no creation of value and without creation of value there are no opportunities for people."

Without trust there is no data, without data there is no creation of value and without creation of value there are no opportunities for people

José Manuel González-Páramo represented BBVA and the 3rd Young Ibero-American Leaders Convention, which was held this week in Madrid. This event brought together 83 young people from 17 Ibero-American countries (including Spain), with excellent academic performance. They were selected from more than 300 public and private universities in the Ibero-American Community of nations. The event is organized by the Carolina Foundation, an institution that promotes cultural relations and cooperation in education and science among Ibero-American countries.

BBVA is a relevant actor in Ibero-America. Through the Young Ibero-American Leaders excellence program, BBVA contributes to the training of professionals in the region by granting 20 scholarships to graduate students at prestigious Spanish schools. The graduate programs include training in digital specializations like big data and digital regulation.