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The CEO of BBVA, Carlos Torres Vila, explained today in a new session of Matins ESADE, sponsored by Bluecap and organised in collaboration with La Vanguardia, that ‘more than 40% of BBVA customers operate through digital channels’. He went on to point out that ‘in recent months, sales through digital channels have accounted for 22% of the total’, whilst 'three years ago, that figure was 5%’. 'At BBVA, almost 100% of customer service can be done online, via the website or mobile’, Torres Vila said, noting by way of example that ‘in August, a third of all sales were made through digital channels’.
'The remote model is working very well', the BBVA CEO said at Matins ESADE. ‘Most of our customers are hybrid, and we already have multiple tools they can use to interact with their managers, via mobile or by telephone or in person, by appointment. We have invested a lot in this digital strategy’, he said. For example, in Catalonia, the penetration of digital banking among customers is 45% and of mobile banking, 32%.
Change in the customer relationship
Speaking with Maite Barrera (Lic&MBA 98), president of ESADE Alumni and founding partner of Bluecap, he stressed that ‘banking is undergoing a transformation and it will change dramatically’. ‘The interaction between the customer and the institution has changed, and technology is key to the new challenge of helping customers make relevant financial decisions throughout their lives.’ Looking ahead, Torres Vila predicted that financial institutions will also become aggregators of third-party products to offer better customer service. In his view, what will make the difference is the capability to advise customers on their financial plans, an area in which ‘we will have increasingly better tools’. In this regard, he said, ‘Just as we will have self-driving cars, we can achieve a ''self-driving'' bank'.
Asked about the role of branches, the BBVA CEO replied, ‘Branches are important: they remain so now and will continue to be in future.’ ‘Logically, as customer interactions migrate to remote channels, the size of the network is adjusted’, he added. Highlighting the importance of face-to-face service, the executive cited the example of major online players, such as Amazon, who are embracing physical stores. ‘The staff profile will have to shift towards advising, supporting customers to help them make the right decisions.’ Nevertheless, he was clear: ‘We are in transition, and we do not know where the future will take us.’
Data is key
According to Torres Vila, ‘The key to this transformation is data.’ In this regard, he considers it essential to foster a circle of trust with the customer. ‘By applying artificial intelligence to data, we can derive actionable recommendations for customers, which will add value that will increase our customers’ trust in us, closing the circle’, he explained. ‘Data are the raw material we have to help customers make decisions’, he said. In this regard, he stressed the importance of new regulations on data use, such as the revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe, or the draft fintech law in Mexico.
With regard to bank mergers, Torres Vila explained that BBVA are ‘satisfied with the current geographical distribution, which strikes a good balance between emerging countries, such as Mexico or Turkey, and developed countries, such as Spain or the US’. ‘We have leading positions in the countries where we operate and do not need to undertake any operations’, he said.