The president of BBVA looks at the new business with prudence but with attention; it should be just another financial service.
Carlos Torres is especially cautious regarding some new financial phenomena such as cryptocurrencies. Personally, he said that he invested something, to see how that world worked, but nothing more, and the BBVA subsidiary in Switzerland allows its clients to invest in crypto.
Is it fear? Indecision? Neither one thing nor the other, simply an attitude of caution, of trying and seeing. "At BBVA, we work on a comprehensive strategy for digital assets, beyond the field of cryptocurrencies," recalls Torres. “Cryptos [as they are now popularly called] are very volatile and poorly regulated assets right now,” she says.
“They have had exponential growth in recent years, within a space dominated by native crypto gamers.”
In that they remind a bit of the highly technical world of "fintech". The president of BBVA explains that "banks have remained on the sidelines due to the lack of regulatory clarity."
Now, "we are seeing a growing demand from our customers, who want to gain access to crypto assets through more secure and reliable services than those offered by less regulated players." That is the challenge. In itself, that there is a demand for new financial services "is good news." And above all, channel those needs through BBVA. "That shows that we are partners who generate trust."
For Carlos Torres, now more than ever, the time has come to regularize the new phenomenon with clear rules of the game.
"We need the authorities to promote a clear and consistent global regulatory framework," he says.
Cryptocurrencies are not the only digital challenges of the entity. Another front is purely online banking. In addition to the purchases made, with entities such as Atom Bank in the United Kingdom, Solarisbank in Germany, or Neon in Brazil, there is the experience of BBVA in Italy, built from scratch.
"We are very satisfied with the evolution of BBVA in Italy," he says. "After a very positive start in October 2021, this year we are maintaining the speed of attracting customers that we had in those first months," says Torres.
"We have also increased our product offering through alliances with third parties" in that country.
However, regarding "exporting the model to other countries", Torres does not contemplate it for now. "Right now we are focused on Italy."
It is precisely digital services that make operations such as the purchase of Garanti in Turkey attractive. The country has enormous long-term potential, due to its size (85 million people), says Torres, but also because of the youth of its population. It is a potentially digital population, due to its youth, with an average age of 33, and its strong links with Europe.