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Banking 27 Oct 2020

To reach more clients, banks must lean on a digital footprint as much as a physical one

Throughout 2020, we’ve witnessed changes that have shifted the very foundation of our society, many of which will reverberate into the next decade. The economic fallout of the pandemic has been felt by small businesses, individuals and everywhere in between. People across the U.S. are hurting financially.

It is up to banks to help them find their footing and not only reach financial health, but sustain it.

That’s why it is so very fitting that BBVA unveiled its 5-year strategic plan at the advent of this historic timeline. Pillar No. 3 of this plan: Reaching more clients, is particularly relevant in light of recent events.

Our decade-long focus on our digital transformation has created the foundation for industry-leading capabilities that meet and exceed client needs. And they position us to execute that strategy and create opportunities for current and new customers, even if they live outside our footprint.

Importance of 2020

The COVID-19 crisis has underscored the role of the financial system as part of the solution. To that end, BBVA continues to use innovation as a key driver to perpetuate a consistent growth pattern. We develop and deliver valuable innovations which attract new customers. The addition of new customers generates enhanced profitability, which allows us to finance the development of new valuable innovations, leading to new customers, and so the cycle continues.

I’m quite certain we passed that test.

A clear example of that has been our effort to help small businesses with the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). BBVA USA was among the first banks to open its online portal to applicants – in just 3 days – which allowed us to fund up to $3.3 billion, process more than 22,000 applications and impact approximately 360,000 jobs in less than 60 days.

Even a bank as focused on small business as BBVA — we’ve been recognized as one of the leading small business lenders by the SBA and ranked 14th nationally in terms of dollar volume origination in 2019 — would typically need years to achieve these figures in ordinary times.

The capabilities we tapped into — and the new ones we developed in real time — have allowed us to reach more customers at a time when our support had a significant impact. We knew this going into 2020, but we couldn’t have anticipated those capabilities would be tested so aggressively. I’m quite certain we passed that test.

The physical footprint conundrum

Because BBVA USA is considered a regional bank in terms of its physical footprint, it might be tempting to question the extent of our reach with new customers beyond our physical market presence. For us, the expansion of the bank’s network does not only mean the expansion of our physical footprint.

While branch expansion aligns with our strategic goal of helping our customers improve their financial health – and indeed we announced that we are opening 15 new branches in 2021 – lines between the physical and digital worlds start to blur as we deploy our remote management model. Through it, we can leverage our channels infrastructure – which includes the bank’s physical network, its digital channels and its contact centers – to create the most convenient journeys for our customers.

Our society has evolved quickly during the last decade, and there are no one-size-fits-all solutions anymore. We were already starting to see an increasing number of customers demand a more convenient, remote experience. The COVID crisis has only accelerated that trend, as digital channels becoming the main relationship channel for some customers and remote bankers trend upward as the perfect complementary layer of contact.

Concrete steps today, concrete steps tomorrow

As we leverage our own channels, we also believe partnerships create valuable opportunities to reach more customers. Our recently announced partnership with Google, one of the most recognized technology companies in the world, will play a significant role in helping us reach more customers. And we have just scratched the surface, as we explore these types of collaborations both in and outside our industry, and our own walls.

We are extremely optimistic in what the future will bring. Through our industry-leading digital capabilities, learnings from 2020, innovative thinking, strategic collaborations, and well-established momentum, I truly believe the direction we are heading will lead to BBVA reaching even more clients – and creating even more opportunities for their financial health – no matter where they live.

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