1. What has been the biggest development in retail banking during 2019
In terms of BBVA’s biggest things, honestly, there’s been so much it’s hard to narrow it to just a few. But if I had to, I’d say these two things. Firstly, the deployment of our new global banking app, which we launched in Mexico, this year has arrived to all Mexican customers and is now expanding to other countries. Secondly, our continuing work to bring personalised advice services to customers, as we have done in Spain (and we will continue delivering in 2020), where the levels of advice – warnings on overspending, expected bills, ways to save etc – are proving hugely successful.
2. How has this, or how will it impact customer and clients going forward?
All of these things deliver a much better customer experience. We are shifting towards being a truly digital, truly global business, and as we are seeing with the likes of big tech, customer experience is a key element in retaining customers. So that what we are working hard at – being better partners, offering better advice, supporting people to meet their goals. In short, helping them improve their financial health. The use of data and technology allow us to reach our whole customer base. And, as we do that, we see that people really value these services positively and they want to use them more and more.
3. Looking to 2020, what potential development excites you the most and why?
Adding to everything we’ve delivered in 2019, there are two things that I am excited about the most. In the first place, continue deploying our global mobile banking platform in Spain and in other countries such as Peru or Argentina. And, in second place, as I’ve just touched on, for me, the ways in which we develop how we offer really individual, personalised, actionable advice to people will still be key. It’s about BBVA helping people with their financial health, both long term – pensions, mortgages, investments – and short term – making sure the bills can be paid, that money is being used as effectively as possible – so the stress that money sometimes causes can be reduced. For us, this ability to use our experience and tools to help people in this way is a key differentiator for us and a core focus in 2020.
4. How will this impact the way in which customers and clients access financial services in the future?
On the one hand, we’ll see changes in the access channels people use. Nowadays the growth of mobile banking is clear, and will continue. But I also think that voice activated banking services will become more prevalent, although that brings with it is own set of challenges. Another significant area of change will be around the automation of financial decisions. This relies on step changes in how banks support people – from automating bill payments or moving money into savings accounts through to full level hands off banking, where the bank will do everything for you to ensure your money is used as effectively and efficiently as possible. To get to this point, having the trust of customers is key.
5. Long term, how do you see retail banking heading – if you could peer ten years into the future, what will have changed and why?
I think the last answer has touched on it, in terms of automating people’s financial lives. Further, I think there is a big job to do around making people’s non-financial data work harder for them, and in many cases, tying together financial and non-financial data to deliver better end results for people. I also think the shakeup of the industry being caused by digital players coming into the sector, and refocusing on user experience and technological powered solutions has only just begun – so interesting times ahead.
Elena Alfaro: “There will be a big leap in our understanding of how data and algorithms work”
Elena Alfaro is the Global Head of Data & Open Innovation in BBVA Client Solutions, which functions include the generation of machine learning algorithms that constitute the intelligence behind BBVA’s digital products, as well as the transformation of BBVA’s skills and culture into a data-driven organization. She also leads the Group’s efforts to make the most of Open Innovation, both for the Bank and for our partners in the external ecosystem. Before that, Elena was the CEO of BBVA Data & Analytics, the Group’s Center for Excellence in Data Science and Advanced Analytics, position that she held during 3 years.
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