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BBVA: the FinTech poster child that thinks about the future
Another significant move by BBVA
as it this week acquires Finnish online banking start-up Holvi. You have to hand
it to the Spanish FI, when it comes to facing up to FinTech disruption, it is
leaving many of its counterparts in the dust.
It has been making a number of investments
and acquisitions in an attempt to keep its finger firmly on the digital pulse.
In 2015, it took a 29.5% stake in UK mobile only challenger bank Atom, and
acquired user experience firm Spring Studio. In 2014, it purchased Big Data and
cloud-computing start-up Madiva Soluciones, and US digital bank Simple. And from
the latter it has now have re-hired the co-founder Shamir Karkal to
build its open source bank service. It is also
an investor in new venture capital partnership Propel, which is looking to take
stakes in startups changing financial services through technology.
BBVA is a rarity in that it is headed up by a banker with a technologist
background, Francisco Gonzalez. A former programmer, Gonzalez has said
that in the future, “BBVA will be a software
company”, because “mobile phones have emerged as the main tool for disruptive
innovation in the banking sector.” He has acknowledged that change is not
easy. The FI started its digital transformation journey eight years ago and it
has been a long, difficult and expensive process. But ultimately his mantra is, “Those who fail to adapt to the new times will be put
So, are other banks following
BBVA’s lead? Privately, yes, they are thinking about this stuff and planning
out roadmaps. But publicly? I struggle to think of anyone else who is quite so
vocal and proactive re. building new business
streams to complement legacy operations. Maybe JPMorgan in the US. Certainly, no one
springs to mind from here in the UK. If you have any other suggestions, would
be great to hear from you.