The digital revolution had a full impact on banking. So much so that in one branch people no longer make almost any money transactions: payments on services or taxes, withdrawals, transfers, deposits and fixed terms. "90% of cash operations are channeled through digital channels", Use the resources of the sector. They refer to greater use of technologies in customer service points, such as ATMs, self-service terminals, computers with the Internet and tablets.
A strong revision of the concept of the branch is reflected by the latest statistics of the Central Bank. The number of digital transactions jumped by 60% last year. In December 2018, there were nearly 16 million electronic transactions, a contrast of almost 10 million in the same month of the previous year. "We are in the process of digitizing the branches to serve a new type of customer," says Carlos Canova, HSBC Digital Area Manager.
Bank reconversion reacts to a general shift in the general habit of people who are less and less willing to go to supermarkets, big stores, cinemas and other consumer centers. However, the physical branch maintains its importance. "100% of digital banks are for a small part of the public. Customers value the branch even if they do not go"Explains Patricia Parente, Commercial Intelligence Manager at Banco Ciudad.
In fact, the opening of the bank's branches did not stop at all. Between 2015 and 2017, 148 were opened, according to the latest data available from BCRA. However, the installation of self-service terminals (585) and ATMs (1768) increased the most. So things, the Central calculates a total of 26,452 banking services, but more than half (56%) are ATMs.
The branch, the banks agree, there are no hours. But his functions radically changed. Emiliano Porcani, digital manager of Galicia (an entity that has 320 affiliates), admits that there are fewer operations in its subsidiaries every now and then. "We have a plan to modernize them so they can create a business, because half of the operations are extractions and deposits, which are usually made through digital channels," the executive said.
Advances in technology have even changed the office of a traditional cashier, in charge of taking deposits, charging for services, negotiating fixed-term payments, paying pensions and responding to withdrawals of money, among other things. The treasury, the most visible and critical face of a bank, not only changes its tasks, but also loses its importance in the entity. "8 years ago we had more ATMs than businessmen," said Parente, adding: "The finished features have been reconverted. Before dealing with deposits and payments, they now offer loans, insurance, cards and other services."
Boundaries like this one, they fulfill different tasks although in the financial sector they emphasize that their presence in their areas of influence. "Conceptually, it changes and we go to an automated banking model. But these changes vary depending on where you work and the segment of the public you serve, "distinguishes Portians from Galicia. This entity, explains the executive, implements a" multi-channel project on 4 fronts: network modernization; developing a digital strategy; improving the processes of the various channels; and adjust the call center function ".
The new orientation is also the result of the emergence of new competitors from the world of tips, just as jargon defines financial service-oriented technology companies as a challenge for traditional banks to pay attention. One way is to include experts in the field. Such is the case with Santander, the country's largest private bank. In the last year, underline by Juan Seruti, public affairs manager, "we've added several technology technology managers," including Federico Prokacini (former Google CEO), Silvia Teneszhinha (former Almundo.com and Oracle) and Diego Salama MercadoLibre.
From Santander himself the trend towards the digital universe is noticed. Some specific data: in the last 10 years, the establishment of fixed terms per branch ranged from 40% to 10%, while domestic banking increased from 15% to 76% and from 0% to 12% per cell. The demand for personal loans was reduced from 89% to 10% in traditional channels and ranged from 0% to 32% in the mobile and from 11% to 58% in online banking. "We are on our way to being a technology-intensive industry", Synthesized Cerruti.
Argentina is generally a retail banking market. The expansion of digital channels, say the banks, enables the inclusion of new customers in cars, especially among segments with lower purchasing power. Porziani points out that private deposits represent between 15% and 18% of GDP, while in other countries in the region the average is 60%. And complete that technology, especially mobile phones, is conducive to closing the gap "Over the past 5 years," Porciani insists, digital banking was not in the folder: today it is necessary"
Parente, from Banco Ciudad, agrees. "91% of money transactions within the branch (transfers, service payments and fixed terms, among others) are done electronically, but we do not abandon the branch expansion plan because we can not focus on one channel, "he adds.
The truth is that the physical branch, today, Fulfills more advisory and training functions for the use of technological tools that provide services in a traditional way. An infamous case is that of Naranja, from the group Galicia, which opened two subsidiaries (one in San Isidro and another in Cordoba) are considered pilot tests of the so-called "branch of the future". The staff basically functions as an instructor in the use of machines.
Online banking and pilot tests with the "branch of the future"
Federico Procacini, executive director of Branco Argentina, from the Santander group.
In response to changes in customer habits, digital banks all appear and grow. Pioneer was Willeband, a joint venture between Eduardo Erneckian and former owner of the province of Guillermo François, which opened in June last year. The second was Brubank, by Eduardo Broch. But there are two urgent BCRA rating initiatives: OpenBank (Santander) and Naranja Digital (from the Galician Group), which will be launched in the course of 2018.
In his short tour, Willeband managed to add 35,000 customers, which basically work with savings account and debit card. François, however, admits that the subject is still not profitable. "We expect to get to the point of break in the first quarter of 2020," said the CEO, who estimates it will exceed 100,000 customers by the end of the year.
The originality of the bank lies in the possibility of opening an account and executing all procedures, without having to go to a branch. This implies lower operating costs compared to traditional banks. "We are cheaper, we do not charge the cards and offer differential rates on loans," he concluded. The businessman indicates that they are in conversation with the Mastercard Master's first data so they can offer "double" credit cards, that is, with a low limit and a charge.
From the financial sector, they agree that digital banks, for now, point to a "small audience", coming from the lower income sectors and not banking. Francois relativizes: "50% of our clients work with banks," he said.
Santander, in turn, is awaiting the approval of the Central Bank to bring OpenBank into the country, the digital version, which in Spain already has more than 1 million users. "We are processing the license and we hope to inaugurate this year," said Juan Seruti, a public relations manager at Santander. For the position of CEO, the entity hired Federico Procacini, former Google CEO and an expert on technological trends.
In parallel, Santander accelerates the digitization of its internal processes and customer service. Without going further, the entity opened 4 new digital offices (3 in Capital, the rest in Mar del Plata), where all procedures (opening accounts and credit card delivery, among others) are done through various IT tools. "In February we have launched the first mobile office, which will cover the entire country, "Cerrutti added.
In the warehouse, the orange works in both ways. On the one hand, it promotes greater use of technology for its traditional operations and awaits the endorsement of BCRA to launch Naranja Digital, its financial company focused exclusively on the online world. "We are in the review period, but the expectation is to get approval this year," said Miguel Peña, vice president of the company. This executive, on the other hand, highlights the increased public demand for automated services. It has 5.5 million cards, but "Today, 35% of new users register digitally"He says.
Like Santander, Naranja opened two physical subsidiaries (San Isidro and Cordoba) as pilot tests, which they call a "branch of the future" and are trying to speed up the acquisition of digital channels by customers. The staff, as Peña explains, advises people to carry out procedures through a mobile phone, a self-service terminal, an ATM or a tablet. "This is a moment of transition," Penya adds, "because although the traditional bank is in decline, it will co-exist for many years with digital banking."
All these projects are in line with the official aspiration for expanding banking and reducing the use of cash. On the one hand and outside the banking circle, points are expanding to withdraw cash without resorting to the cashier. Last year, according to BCRA data, there were "5,300 points for money extraction" in different parts of the country. Out of the total, the report says that almost 46% are from ExtraCash (Visa). Next comes Rapipago (28.6%), Más Efectivo de Cabal (18.3%) and Cash Back de Maestro (7.3%).
A recent regulation of the Central, on the other hand, formally allowed traditional banks to install "bank correspondents" in accordance with supermarkets, shopping malls and other high-traffic areas. From the Central level they explain that these responsibilities have more to do financial transactions than to withdraw and deposit cash.