As in many other parts of the world, the banking sector in Central America has undergone a profound change in recent years. Digital technologies have revamped many banks’ solutions as they attempt to keep pace with shifting customer demands. At BAC Credomatic, these changes have centred on transforming company culture to make sure customers are at the centre of its operations at all times. Becoming a customer-centric bank has been the most important initiative the bank has undergone recently, and has resulted in a significant change in organisational structure and a fundamental shift from products to customers. Now, the company’s C-suite is organised by client segments and a new chief customer experience officer role has been created.

Unsurprisingly, given its customer-centric approach, the bank continues to value its physical branches even as it embraces digitalisation. Banking is about relationships, and many clients still value this in brick-and-mortar branches. At BAC Credomatic, however, the role of the branch is changing: every day, the transactional side of the bank shrinks, opening opportunities for branches to become advisory and relational centres for clients.

In the past five years, despite serving an increased number of customers, monetary transactions carried out at BAC Credomatic branches have plateaued, while digital monetary transactions have increased by 282 percent. Consequently, branches have been redesigned to provide a more relational banking experience, drawing on digital aspects, such as full internet access and self-service kiosks, while simultaneously prioritising relational solutions like providing meeting spaces for expert advice. The bank plans to expand its network of concept branches in the coming year.

Maintaining a high standard of digital and human services will not be easy, particularly with technology rapidly evolving, but it is something that BAC Credomatic is wholly committed to

Maintaining a high standard of digital and human services will not be easy, particularly with technology rapidly evolving, but it is something that BAC Credomatic is wholly committed to. World Finance spoke with the bank’s chief digital officer, José Manuel Páez, about how the organisation intends to achieve this balancing act over the coming years.

How has the bank used technology to foster a culture of innovation and creativity among its employees?
BAC Credomatic continually invests in human talent, which remains the core of our business. Internally, we organise webinars where digital initiatives are shared company-wide and employees get the chance to hear and ask questions about recent digital releases. Our CEO regularly participates in these sessions, discussing the bank’s customer-centric strategy and the challenges we are facing.

In 2019, the bank organised a digital showroom where developers were able to showcase their innovative initiatives. All corporate employees were invited to learn about recently released and upcoming innovations, testing them firsthand. The event felt like a tech showcase: loud and busy; everyone getting their hands on the new technology. We received very positive feedback about the event and will continue to support these types of initiatives in the future.

In what other ways has BAC Credomatic digitalised its products and services?
BAC Credomatic has undertaken a number of efforts to digitalise its products and services. Internally, we are launching novel product origination processes through our newly implemented business process management solution. The focus isn’t only on creating more efficient processes, but also on redesigning the processes themselves, thinking about digital origination and self-service wherever regulation allows. In 2018, we were thrilled to release new streamlined origination processes for three credit-card-related products, and even more excited to see the extremely high adoption rates that these processes have had in all markets. Externally, we recently launched our redesigned mobile application.

Currently, three out of four digital customers use our mobile banking solution; therefore, it was critical for us to launch a completely renovated mobile experience. Further, because two out of five of our customers only use our mobile solution, we were keen to deliver a pristine application. We invested hundreds of hours researching customers’ needs and testing prototypes in order to deliver a banking solution they would fall in love with.

Our mobile banking platform now presents a bird’s-eye view of all the products being used by each customer. It also allows them to easily share the result of a transfer or payment through their preferred method, whether it is an SMS, email or WhatsApp message. Improvements like these have positively impacted our customer satisfaction scores.

As part of our efforts to offer an omnichannel experience, we are pleased to have opened the first three concept branches in the region, located in Guatemala, Honduras and Costa Rica. Among other benefits, these branches offer full Wi-Fi access to customers and extensive in-branch digital solutions, integrating our technology platforms with our new business vision of a customer-centric service model.

How has BAC Credomatic embraced mobile payments?
BAC Credomatic became the first bank in the region to equip its mobile application with contactless payments functionality. Through near-field communication (NFC) technology, users can safely and easily use any NFC-enabled Android phone to pay merchants. As the largest merchant bank in the region, we have been creating an environment in which mobile payments can thrive, pushing contactless terminals and providing training for merchants.

Clients have embraced the idea of only carrying their mobile phone and still being able to pay safely and smoothly. Since its release in August, uptake has gradually increased, and only continues to do so. We are pleased to see our customers raving about how innovative the feature is.

What security features are included within the mobile app to safeguard consumer assets?
Across all our services and channels, we adhere to the strictest information security standards and protocols, which allow us to safeguard our customers’ data and privacy. For one, the app itself is obfuscated, preventing anyone from accessing the source code. We have also included risk-based authentication functionalities within our platforms. This enables us to understand, detect and prevent unwanted customer behaviour. As part of our efforts to provide a safe but convenient experience, we have enabled biometric login where the device allows.

Does BAC Credomatic offer any digital solutions that are specifically tailored to its SME customers?
We have tailored many of our digital solutions to the SME segment. In a developing region such as ours, we focus on providing solutions that support the formal economy by enabling digital payments. For example, we launched MiPOS, a Bluetooth-enabled card reader that allows SMEs to receive card payments on the go. Credit card acceptance in our region is remarkably strong, partially due to the innovative and convenient products we offer.

Another product we offer SMEs is Compra-Click, which allows small merchants that don’t have the resources to build and maintain a website to sell their products through Facebook or via email using a simple and accessible platform. The uptake of this solution has exploded in the past year. We have also created a digital portal that offers discounts and promotions to our customers and merchants. The portal extends our merchants’ reach and provides discounted benefits to our customers. This closed loop has created a virtuous cycle that has been well received by both merchants and customers.

As technology becomes more prominent, how will BAC Credomatic ensure that it keeps a human touch at the heart of its services?
At BAC Credomatic, we are dedicated to keeping the customer at the centre of our every undertaking. We constantly research our markets and make every effort to understand our customers’ behaviour in order to find solutions that resonate with them. Our user experience team goes into the field on a weekly basis to receive customer feedback on new products and prototypes. The insights we obtain from these excursions are used to make the necessary changes to ensure our products are as clear and helpful as possible.

In addition, we are implementing a new tool that will help us measure customer satisfaction at every touchpoint. We are excited to give our customers a voice to express their opinions. This will help us turn customer views into actionable insights that ultimately translate into better experiences. Technology is an enabler in many processes, but the customer will always dictate the path we will follow.

What are BAC Credomatic’s plans for the future?
We remain committed to our customer-centric culture and, with that in mind, we are moving forward locally and regionally to strengthen our value proposition. In 2020, we will continue along the same lines, delivering well-researched solutions that respond to our customers’ needs. For our retail segment, we are planning to release a solution that helps our customers better understand their financial position and therefore make better financial and life decisions. It is our goal to create deep relationships with our clients, becoming their trusted advisor.

We will continue to innovate for our corporate segment, providing digital solutions and a better experience for payroll, treasury and supplier payments. BAC Credomatic closed 2019 on a very positive note and we expect 2020 to be equally full of opportunities for the organisation.

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