Fresh from his forecasts last month that half of the world's banks would get left behind by the digital revolution in financial services, BBVA chairman Francisco González has mapped out a new future for his organisation, not as a bank, but as a software company.
González pointed out the dramatic impact that technology is having on the transformation of the financial sector during a speech at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
"BBVA will be a software company in the future,” González told the audience, recalling that the bank embarked on its "digital journey" eight years ago.
During this time it has made significant investment to build a new customer-centric technological platform, which operates in real time and is also modular and scalable. This platform allows BBVA to develop a new generation of services to compete with new startups and major digital companies, with the emphasis on mobile says González.
"The mobile has emerged as the driving force for disruptive innovation in banking," the BBVA chairman said.
The number of BBVA mobile customers has increased 14-fold in three years and totaled 4.3 million at the end of 2014.
González underlined the success of the bank's mobile payments app BBVA Wallet, which already claims over 450,000 downloads in Spain and is poised to be rolled out in Mexico, the US and Chile. "It's the world's most-used cloud-based NFC payment app," the BBVA chairman boasted.
The bank currently has 450 people working on the wallet, but this is just the beginning. Currently just 3000 of its 110,000 staff work on the digital side but in five years González reckons it will be a majority, as the company re-engineers its workforce to compete on equal terms with the likes of Apple, Samsung, Google and Amazon.
“There is a threat element which I like because banking needs competitors," said González. "We need to be more efficient but we can also collaborate with them.”