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Technology 09 Oct 2018

"Privacy should never be the price to pay for a service"

The CEO and future chairman of BBVA, Carlos Torres Vila, stressed this morning that “privacy should never be the price to pay for a service.” At the IX Financial Meeting organized by KPMG and Spain’s daily business journal Expansión he explained that new European regulations for the protection and use of data (GDPR and PSD2) are a step in the right direction, although he called for a level playing field between banks and other sectors.

Carlos Torres Vila was interviewed by Salvador Arancibia, a journalist for Expansión in a session on “the sustainability of banking business model: security, privacy, and fulfillment.” BBVA’s CEO thinks that the new privacy protection and data usage regulations (GDPR, PSD2) are “a step in the right direction” in providing customers with better solutions, anticipating problems, making better recommendations, and ultimately adding greater value.

In this light, he asserted that “data belongs to the customer, and to use it requires their consent.” In fact, he pointed out that “privacy should never be the price to pay for a service” and “there is still room for improvement” to make regulation compatible with access to services. Regarding the payment services directive PSD2, he called for a level playing field so that data is as accessible to banks as it is to other sectors. Banks have opened access to their customer information, and “this same information flow should exist in other industries.”

Asked if BBVA’s priorities will change when he assumes the role of chairman, expected to occur on January 1, 2019, he stated that the handover provides “absolute continuity” to the bank’s strategy. Thanks to the far-reaching vision of almost a decade ago, “at BBVA we have been pioneers in anticipating the changes that have come.” he explained. In his opinion, “the results that we now have, both internal and external, confirm that we are going in the right direction.”

Likewise, he revealed that “there will be no surprises” in the appointment of the next CEO, because it will be someone in-house.” In the same vein he affirmed, “We have an enormously talented team.”

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Salvador Arancibia, journalist for Expansión, and Carlos Torres Vila, BBVA CEO

Technology and data enable “unimaginable things”

BBVA’s future chairman believes technology and the use of data “make things possible that were unimaginable just a short time ago.” The power of this technology feeds into BBVA’s mission, “to bring the age of opportunity to everyone; which means using technology and data to help individuals and businesses achieve their life and/or business goals.” This is where Carlos Torres Vila sees BBVA adding value as a financial advisor and where there is “a great opportunity to help our clients more profoundly make better decisions.”

He also stressed that “trust is at the core of the banking business.” He believes it is crucial to create “a cycle of trust” where banks receive customer consent to use data. From that data, the bank gains insight and makes useful recommendations helping customers make decisions, which results in continued and growing trust.

A look at emerging markets and Spain

Carlos Torres Vila also made comments about the outlook for emerging markets where the bank has operations.  Firstly, he observed that “BBVA is a diversified group” and “we are used to managing difficult situations.” BBVA Group’s diversification, its management model of self-sufficient subsidiaries with common risk policies and exchange rate hedging “makes us resistant to this type of volatile scenario.” he added. He went on to refer to the “restrictive policies” used by Turkey and Argentina to correct imbalances in both economies.

With regard to Spain, he pointed out that “Uncertainty is generated by political fragmentation and the tensions that we have, for example, in Catalonia.” In addition, the CEO explained that in a world where digitization has direct implications for education, it is of the utmost importance that “Spain becomes more competitive.” Finally, he mentioned the existing imbalances in the Spanish economy, such as the public deficit, high unemployment, and a glut of short-term jobs. He concluded by touching on long-term challenges, such as digitization, globalization and the savings rate, because this last challenge is “a source of financial stability.”

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