The digital revolution had a full impact on banking. So much so that there are almost no money transactions in the office: payment of services or taxes, withdrawals, transfers, deposits and fixed deadlines. "90% of cash operations are channeled through digital channels", They match the resources of the sector. They refer to the greater use of technology in customer service points, such as ATMs, self-service terminals, computers with the Internet and tablets.
A strong reconstruction of the concept of branches is reflected in the latest statistics of the Central Bank. The number of digital transactions jumped 60% last year. In December 2018, there were nearly 16 million electronic transactions, which is unlike nearly 10 million in the same month of the previous year. "We are in the process of digitizing the branches that will serve a new type of user," says Carlos Canova, HSBC Digital Area Manager.
The bank's reconversion corresponds to a general change in the general habits of people who are increasingly less willing to go to supermarkets, large shops, cinemas and other consumer centers. However, the physical branch retains its validity. "100% of digital banks are for a small segment of the public. Clients value the branch even if they do not"Explains Patricia Parente, manager of commercial intelligence in Banco Ciudad.
In fact, the opening of a branch of banks did not care at all. Between 2015 and 2017, 148 were opened, according to the latest data available by BCRA. The installation of self-service terminals (585) and ATMs (1768) increased the most. So things, Central calculations a total of 26,452 banking services, but more than half (56%) are ATMs.
Branch, banks agree, there are no hours. But his functions radically changed. Emiliano Porciani, digital manager of Galicia (an entity that has 320 affiliates), recognizes that each time there are fewer operations in its affiliates. "We have a plan to modernize them so they can create a job, as half of the extraction and disposal operations, which are mostly done through digital channels," says the executive.
The advancement of technology has even modified the office of a traditional cashier, in charge of taking deposits, billing services, arranging fixed deadlines, paying pensions and responding to withdrawals, among other things. The cashier, the most visible and most critical of the bank, has not only changed his tasks, but also loses importance in the entity. "We had more ATMs than business officers eight years ago," said Parente, adding: "The cash functions have been reconverted. Before they processed deposits and payments, they now offer loans, insurance, cards and other services. "
The branches, like this, they fulfill different tasks although in the financial sector they point out that their presence is in areas of influence. Conceptually, it changes as well we are going to the model of automatic banking. But these changes vary depending on where you work and the segments of the audience you serve, "says Porciani from Galicia. This entity, explains the executive, is implementing a "multi-channel project on four fronts: modernizing the network; develop a digital strategy; improve the processes of different channels; and customize the call center function ".
The new orientation is also the result of the emergence of new competitors from the world of fintech, just as the jargon defines financial-oriented technology companies, the challenge that traditional banks pay attention to. One way is to include experts in this field. Such is the case of Santandera, the country's largest private bank. Last year, according to Juan Cerruti, Public Affairs Manager, "we added several technology company managers," including Federica Procaccina (former Google CEO), Silvia Tenazinha (former Almundo.com and Oracle) and Diego Salama (former MercadoLibre).
Observe the trend towards the digital universe from Santander itself. Some specific data: in the last 10 years the establishment of fixed deadlines by branches ranged from 40% to 10%, while home banking increased from 15% to 76% and from 0% to 12% per cell. The demand for personal loans has been reduced from 89% to 10% in traditional channels and has gone from 0% to 32% in the mobile phone and from 11% to 58% in online banking. "We are on the road to be a technology-intensive industry", Sinthesized Cerruti.
Argentina is generally a market with little banking. The expansion of digital channels, say banks, allow the inclusion of new customers in the circuit, especially among lower-power segments. Porciani points out that private deposits represent between 15% and 18% of GDP, "while in other countries of the region they are on average 60%". And complete that technology, especially mobile phones, suits the closure of the gap "In the past 5 years," Porciani insists, digital banking was not in the folder: today is necessary"
Parente, from Banca Ciudad, agrees. "91% of the money deals in the branch (transfers, payment of services and fixed terms, among others) are done electronically, but we do not abandon the expansion plan of the branch network because we can not focus on one channel, he adds.
The truth is, today is a physical branch, Fulfills several advisory and training functions to use technological tools that provide services in a traditional manner. The notorious case was Naranja, from the Galicia group, who inaugurated two subsidiaries (one in San Isidro and the other in Cordoba), which was considered pilot tests of the so-called "branches of the future". The staff basically work as an instructor in the use of machines.
Online banking and pilot tests with the "branch of the future"
Federico Procaccini, Executive Director of Open Bank Argentina, Santander Group.
As a reaction to changes in customer habits, the emergence of a fully digital bank is emerging. The pioneer was Vilobank, a joint venture of Eduard Eurnekian and former Guillermo Francos owner of the provincial bank, who was inaugurated in June last year. The other was Brubanka, Eduardo Brochou. But there are two BCRA rating initiatives: OpenBank (Santander) and Naranja digital (from the Galicia group), which will be launched in 2018.
In his short tour, Vilobank managed to add 35,000 clientswhich basically work with a savings account and a debit card. The French, however, admits that the entity is still not profitable. "We expect to reach the coverage point in the first quarter of 2020," said the senior executive, who estimates that he will exceed 100,000 users by the end of the year.
The originality of the bank lies in the possibility of opening accounts and performing all procedures without going to the branch office. This implies lower operational costs than traditional banks. "We are cheaper, we do not charge cards and we offer different rates on loans," he concluded. Businessman points out that they are negotiating with First Data (owner of Mastercard) to be able to offer "dual" credit cards, that is, with a low limit and rechargeable.
From the financial sector, they agree that digital banks, for the time being, point to a "small audience"who come from the low income sector and are not banking. Francos relativizes: "50% of our clients do business with banks," he said.
Santander, for its part, is awaiting approval from the Central Bank to bring OpenBank to the country, a digital version, which already has more than million clients in Spain. "We are processing a license and we hope to open it this year," said Juan Cerruti, public relations manager at Santander. For the post of general manager, the entity was hired by Federica Procaccina, former Chief Executive Officer of Google and expert in technological trends.
In parallel, Santander is accelerating the digitization of its internal processes and services to its users. Without further opening, the entity opened 4 new digital offices (3 in Capital and the rest in Mar del Plata), where all procedures (opening of accounts and delivery of credit cards, among others) are carried out through various IT tools. In February, we launched the first mobile office, which will cover the entire country, "Cheruti added.
In line, Orange works in both directions. On the one hand, it promotes greater use of technology for its traditional operations and is awaiting BCRA's approval to launch Naranja digital, its financial company focused exclusively on the online world. "We are in the review period, but the expectation is that we will get approval this year," says Miguel Pena, vice president of the company. This executive power, on the other hand, highlights the increased public demand for automated services. Naranja has 5.5 million card users, but "Today, 35% of new users are registered digitallyHe says.
Like Santander, Naranja has opened two physical branches (San Isidro and Cordoba) as pilot tests, which are called the "branch of the future" and are trying to speed up the acquisition of digital channels by customers. The staff, as Pena explains, advises people to conduct procedures through mobile phones, a self-service terminal, ATM or tablet. "This is the moment of transition," Pena adds, "because although the traditional bank is in decline, it will co-exist with digital banking for many years."
All of these projects are in line with the official aspiration to expand bank accounts and reduce the use of cash. On the one hand and outside of the banking circle, points are expanded to raise cash without resorting to a cashier. Last year, according to BCRA, there were "5,300 places to draw money" in different parts of the country. Of this total, the report says, almost 46% were from EktraCash (Visa). Next comes Rapipago (28.6%), Mas Efectivo de Cabal (18.3%) and Cash Back de Maestro (7.3%).
The recent regulation of the Central Bank, on the other hand, formally enabled traditional banks to install "bank correspondents" in agreement with supermarkets, shopping malls and other high-speed public transport points. The Central Bank explains that these goals are more focused on performing financial transactions than on withdrawing and depositing cash.