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American nation in terms of digital banking products over the last three years, in a report by software firm Latinia. Its research indicates that artificial intelligence (AI) is being developed in six of the 10 Argentine banks it analysed – and that AI was being used well beyond customer assistance chatbots. It also noted that Argentinians spend an average of three hours, 18 minutes connected to the internet each day, which will have been a factor in BBVA persuading 59.4 per cent of its customers to use its online banking platform. According to a World Bank report last year, wide access to digital technology could enable rapid growth in financial technology use in the region. Fifty-five per cent of adults own a mobile phone and have access to the internet, 15 percentage points more than the developing world average. About 20 per cent of adults with an account already use mobile or the internet to make a transaction in Argentina. The World Bank goes on to suggest that ‘by digitizing cash wage payments, businesses could expand account ownership to up to 30 million unbanked adults – almost 90 per cent of whom have a mobile phone’. BBVA is doing its best to help push the country in that direction. “Four years ago, we started a journey by setting up an in-house design team and we turned it into the cornerstone for the creation of products and services within the bank,” says Alvarez. “We have also developed practices and procedures with input from our customers. We get them to validate ideas and products by monitoring their experiences as users. We need to understand where friction exists in the user experience. For us, product design is a field of expertise in its own right.” Among the initiatives to flow from that in 2019 is Salary Advance, a lending product that allows the bank to advance short-term loans of up to 20 per cent of a customer’s salary using the data it holds on the income and outgoings of the account holder. Salary Advance is predicated, of course, on your earnings being paid into an account, thereby encouraging financial inclusion: a very real example of how BBVA is banking the unbanked with a potentially big impact at both individual and country level. For commercial customers, the team has come up with a suite of digital products to improve the customer experience and their financial self-management. They include www.fintech.finance

Immediate Coupon Payment, a way of advancing 65 per cent of payments made with a Visa card – an initiative that has now been migrated to France. A similar service operates for cheques under Custody Cheque Discount, which allows commercial customers to make use of funds before they are cleared. Argentine businesses can also make use of mobile deposits for cheques, which are paid into a branch later, as well as digital agreements and mobile cheque discount services. Also introduced recently were Net Cash Commercial, a treasury management solution offering online financial loans for a period of six or 12 months. In all cases, the goal is to produce products that are simple to navigate, whether they are online or in branch, and it earned BBVA the Best Digital Bank in Mexico 2019 award at the World Finance Banking Awards last month (August). Alvarez says: “Improving the user’s experience is the big challenge that all banks share, and both commercial and individual customers are experiencing a process of empowerment whereby they demand more and more – a better service,

QR codes are growing in popularity. NFC solutions are also taking hold across the country – I predict how we make payments is going to change drastically in the short term a broader range of products, everything must be immediate, anywhere. “What we aim to achieve at BBVA is to incorporate the client’s vision in the creation of our products and services. People do not want to waste time when they interact with a bank or any other company,” he says. “They look for something immediate and easy to use. They look for relevant information that informs their decision-making. Therefore, we must seek to improve the information architecture; what kind of information we provide, and when, so that processes are simplified for the client. It all depends on the experience.”

New crossborder payment services, utilising SWIFT gpi, hit the spot in that respect – especially its end-to-end tracking feature. “When we first offered it, we were confident it would have potential, but still we were surprised by how much our clients used it,” says Alvarez. Looking at the bigger payments picture, both Alvarez and his colleague Atilio Velaz, solutions development manager for businesses, believe the payments as a service category is undergoing a revolution in Argentina. Not only is the country's central bank closely involved in the development of new processes, but some of the new digital payment products can be used by people without a bank account, which provides a potential route into onboarding them as customers. Velaz says: “The payment system in Argentina is changing fast and the Central Bank of Argentina, together with the whole banking system, has been working hard to implement new technological solutions. “Technology and innovation teams have been created within the Central Bank, and stakeholders such as fintechs and non-banks are part of the process, too. New payment systems include the immediate debit system, which is a solution that permits people to authorise a debit of their account – it sends them a debit and they use it. “Then there’s the Echeq, which is the electronic cheque. It is similar to an electronic transfer but has a deferral date, so is a useful vehicle for a business to pay its supplier. It’s aimed at SMEs and, being digital, it reduces cost.” The virtual wallet is another product undergoing stellar growth. Individuals can load up their wallet with cash rather like a pre-payment card to be used at contactless payment terminals, which are being rolled out across the country. QR codes are another fast-growing payment method. Alvarez says: “Ecommerce has an important presence already and it is fostering the incorporation of QR by means of discount promotions. We are developing a system alongside several partner banks for QR. We also understand what NFC could mean. It will speed up transaction times and remove the need to have a card, as you can make payments with your smartphone. This payment method will be adopted soon in Argentina, heralding a huge change.” Issue 13 | TheFintechMagazine

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Fintech Finance presents: The Fintech Magazine Issue 13  

Fintech Finance presents: The Fintech Magazine Issue 13

Fintech Finance presents: The Fintech Magazine Issue 13  

Fintech Finance presents: The Fintech Magazine Issue 13