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Technology Updated: 03 Dec 2018

Peio Belausteguigoitia: "We created the digital factory for businesses to support their transformation"

Peio Belausteguigoitia (Bilbao, 1973) is BBVA Spain's Head of Business Development. He was previously responsible for Spain's northern territory, and prior to that ran the eastern territory and was regional director for the northeast.

The unit that he runs is key to the bank's transformation in Spain. In the year and a half that he has held this position, BBVA has ramped up the number of digital deliveries for private customers - providing them tools to help make better financial decisions – and boosted sales and the number of online customers.

And now, BBVA has created the digital transformation factory for businesses. With a multidisciplinary team of 250 professionals, it facilitates the delivery of digital solutions to customers in more flexible timeframes. The bank recently launched Avalbox, which radically digitizes the guarantor request process; and One View, which helps businesses make more efficient decisions and optimize their cashflow.

BBVA has 4.7 million digital customers in Spain. What is your assessment of this digitization process? Is it progressing as planned?

In 2014, BBVA bolstered the transformation process for personal banking customers, giving them access to the initial features available on the bank’s website and app - features that allowed for more than just basic transactions.

We have significantly increased our services since then. We currently launch three new relevant elements for all of our customers each month and make an average of ten improvements to the app.

We work hand in hand with our customers. Every day we analyze their feedback and the improvements made to user experience, which is the foundation for our new projects and the digital services that we develop. This has also allowed us to create an even greater connection with our customers.

How are businesses dealing with the transformation process?

Spanish companies are engaging in a major transformation process, but they still have a way to go. At BBVA, we are working with them during this process, helping them become more competitive and offering them the benefits of digitization.

Business clients have had a digital relationship with banks for some time. Ninety-five percent of BBVA's SME customers are already using digital channels for their day-to-day business, but they are doing so for their banking transactions.

For years, we have had teams that develop digital capacities and solutions for the business community. We have now taken an important step forward with the creation of the “digital transformation factory for businesses” - pooling together 250 professionals from different disciplines whose mission is to support and promote business transformation.

The team encompasses a number of different profiles. Many team members comes from different branches of engineering; and many others are data analysis experts. They are joined by experts in design and finance. The digital factory for businesses is entirely dedicated to the development of digital solutions and services that seek to simplify the administrative dealings and processes for our business clients, anticipating their needs and meeting their demands.

Our goal is to help companies streamline their processes and improve decision-making

How does the digital world make life easier for businesses?

Companies – just like individuals – demand prompt action; tools to streamline procedures that used to require physical presence; immediate access to financing; features to help them in their businesses, and of course, having all services available on mobile banking. We have seen a substantial increase in businesses using cell phones to engage with us.

We will continue working on this next year in order to offer solutions that are in tune with companies’ capacities and needs, keeping the customer – and not the product – in mind.

Will the financing process also be simplified?

BBVA already offers Click&Pay, which allows SMEs to have quick and easy access to credit in order to cover advance payments. Since 2017, 56,000 SMEs regularly use this service, with an annual increase of 44%. Nearly 90% of all provisions are now digital.

BBVA took another step forward this year along the same lines of facilitating access to financing. We have made €2 billion available to 30,000 SMEs. They can sign up online and choose from four financing products. We also just launched Online Business Loan, and in the coming months, we’ll add a credit account and a reverse factoring service.

We recently launched Avalbox, a pioneering tool in Spain that radically digitizes requests for bank guarantees. Since Avalbox was launched two months ago for corporate clients, 80% of bank guarantees have been requested online. The numbers speak for themselves.

We also worked on a new payment experience to advise clients regarding the best channel to use, of the many that are available. Based on each client’s needs – speed or cost – we recommend the best option with complete transparency, helping companies make the best decisions with the information available.

Will aggregation be the key to the bank’s upcoming developments?

Spanish businesses work with an average of 3.4 banks, so data aggregation and classification in a uniform manner is imperative for their cashflow management, as well as for the posting and reconciliation of transactions. And more importantly, to make decisions.

As in all of our lines of work, our clients will be the ones who determine the way forward. In September, we added aggregation to the app for personal banking customers and we recently began offering it to businesses.

Our goal is to help companies simplify their processes and improve decision-making. The key is to surprise and be useful to our clients, so that they trust us. It also allows us to get to know them better, and offer more personalized advice.

BBVA sees fintech firms and startups as partners

How has all of this transformation affected BBVA Spain’s business or profit?

The digital transformation of the banking industry is a reflection of changing habits in society as a whole. And of the transformation of all sectors in general. Transformation has allowed us to be more efficient, and improve our Net Promoter Score, increasing customer loyalty.

Digital customers are more connected to the bank. A year ago we hit a milestone – half of our customers in Spain do their banking online. Now we are close to having half of our customers engaging with the bank via the app.

I think the answer to the question is that if we hadn’t undergone the transformation, it would have had a negative impact on BBVA’s business –now and even more so in the future.

Many banks are joining the transformation process and new actors like fintech firms and startups are emerging. How do you see the financial landscape in this regard?

Being a digital company is more than just having an app or website customers can use to perform their transactions. It’s much more – it’s a transformation of the way a company works – the corporate culture, personnel and work dynamics. We started this process at BBVA years ago, with customers at the heart of everything we do, and that gives us an enormous competitive advantage.

At BBVA we see fintech firms and startups as partners. For some time now, we have been working with them to create an ecosystem that promotes open innovation in order to improve our value proposition and develop new business models for customers and non-customers. We have come up with projects like Open Talent and Open Summit, formed joint-ventures like Veridas and even acquired startups like Madiva.

BBVA has the first open market agreement in Spain with Fintonic. Will partnerships like this become a trend in the finance sector?

BBVA needs to be where users are, meaning that agreements like this should be prioritized in our strategy. This partnership is part of the bank’s global commitment to work with new clients in open market.

Through this agreement, BBVA sells consumer loans to Fintonic app users through a 100% digital process. Partnerships like this also help us understand how a startup thinks and works.

"We work hand in hand with our customers"

In terms of technological developments, what will BBVA focus on? Biometrics, artificial intelligence, voice, etc.?

We are incorporating biometrics into many different processes, such as customer registration on the app, which has been very popular. In August and September, one out of every three new customers opened an account with BBVA online. And contrary to what we might think, they aren’t young people under the age of 30. New customers tend to be between 30 and 40 years old. This is proof that digital processes are not specific to a certain segment of the population, and customers appreciate more straightforward processes. They value convenience and simplicity.

We are also applying it to our app, or “facial payments” - known as “selfie and go” - which allows our employees to pay for their meals with facial recognition technology – without using their cell phone or wallet.

We are also focusing on artificial intelligence and the use of voice - not just to develop specific features, but also to make processes more agile, straightforward and automated, or simply to be cutting-edge in security and cybersecurity.

We are also innovating by taking advantage of the potential of augmented reality, the Internet of Things and blockchain.

BBVA’s app has been recognized by Forrester as the best in the world on two occasions. Does this recognition carry weight?

This year, we had the complicated task of renewing this recognition. We were hoping to win and in the end, we did. BBVA’s app in Turkey also came in second around the world.

This made us very happy and is very fulfilling for the entire BBVA Group. It’s the result of many people’s hard work day in and day out, a well-planned strategy and clearly defined purpose.