Global Banking & Finance Awards® 2019 Winner – Banco Mercantil Santa Cruz – Exclusive Interview
Alberto Valdés Andreatta, Executive Vice President of Banco Mercantile Santa Cruz talks to Global Banking & Finance Review about the banks achievement, the current opportunities facing the banking sector in Bolivia, product innovation and their commitment to communities they serve.
As a leader in retail banking what initiatives do you feel have contributed to your success?
One of the main initiatives to be positioned as a national and international leader in retail banking, has been the design of comprehensive and micro-segmented strategies to provide products, services and customer support according to the specific needs of each segment and each one of our stakeholders.
Likewise, a key aspect has been to use active listening. As Mercantil Santa Cruz bank, we always seek to obtain feedback from our clients in order to improve each one of our processes and products.
The uninterrupted investment in technology and innovation has also been fundamental because it has allowed us to democratize financial services and strengthen the reach of our bank to all Bolivians. The implementation of new processes and functionalities today have simplified financial operations and made them much more comfortable, efficient and safe.
In your opinion, what are the biggest opportunities and challenges facing the banking sector in Bolivia?
One of the main challenges is to understand the user, their habits and needs in a changing environment, conditioned by the fast and permanent development of new technologies. As a financial institution, we must try to quickly understand our client or user in order to offer solutions with a high level of innovative value. Another fundamental challenge is to continue deepening the use of digital channels through financial education.
It is also evident that innovation is increasingly part of all companies and institutions in a transversal way, and for the banking sector it will become an strategic unit in the business model, this with the objective of evolving and providing services and products that meet the needs of customers. Innovation is increasingly consolidated as a great competitive advantage.
Let’s talk for a minute about product development. What drives product creation at Banco Mercantil Santa Cruz?
The creation of new products and services arises from exhaustive analysis of market behavior, the specific needs of each of our clients and the adaptation to new trends of innovation and technology. For us as Mercantil Santa Cruz Bank, the construction of new forms and tools for consumption arise from our commitment to our clients, always seeking to provide them with the best financial experience in the market.
How are customer behaviors and the increased movement towards cashless transactions changing banking in Bolivia?
As Mercantil Santa Cruz Bank, throughout our trajectory, we have been implementing a business model aimed to satisfy the financial needs of each of our users, whom today, due to technological development, are increasingly demanding and constantly ask for more efficiency, safe and fast attention.
Today, approximately the 80% of the financial transactions made by our clients are made through our digital platform.
In recent years, our Banca 24/7 has been strengthening and our Mobile Banking application has been taking a greater role until it currently becomes the main transactional channel with more than 2 million monthly transactions, even surpassing the transactions that they perform at ATMs. This growth is supported by the diversity of functionalities that the application has, the ease, comfort and security of the service. The main transactions generated are bank transfers, service payments and balance inquiries.
How important are the digital channels to bank operations and customers?
Undoubtedly, digital channels are fundamental because they have allowed us to simplify operations and financial processes, have allowed us to achieve greater reach and be closer to our customers. Likewise, they have allowed us to innovate with products and services that are adapted to the changing needs of our users, allowing us to offer greater comfort, safety and speed.
In this last period, thanks to the capital that we invest in digitalization, technology, innovation, and thanks to the commitment that we have with our clients to provide them efficient and a quality service and attention, we have renewed our internet banking and updated our mobile banking, we have increased effectively the operations available in our electronic platform, we have expanded our ATM network and we also have implemented new functionalities.
The trend towards digitalization is evident, but this should not hide that our reality is multichannel, which is why, as Mercantil Santa Cruz Bank, we constantly seek to improve our different service channels, we also work to provide personalized and a topquality service to our clients. This responds to a strategy oriented to the generation of unique experiences, achieving exceptional and rapid communication.
Today we are consolidated as the largest financial network in the country, we currently have 429 ATMs, more than 122 agencies throughout the national territory, in addition to our entire digital customer service platform such as; Our Mobile Banking, Internet Banking, Central Query, among others.
Can you tell us about You Can Believe, the Santa Cruz Mercantile Bank Foundation and the important role it plays?
For us, Corporate Social Responsibility is a business model aimed to promote local and national development through sustainable activities or actions that generate a positive social, economic or environmental impact.
Through our Foundation “PuedesCreer”, we execute different programs in the fields of health, sport, education, environment and productive development. Up to date, with all our programs, we have been able to benefit more than 17,000 people in situations of vulnerability nationwide, generating a real and positive impact on our community.
Social responsibility is one of our fundamental mainstays of action,is part of our philosophy and part of the daily work of the entire human team that makes up the MercantilSanta Cruz Bank. It is a commitment that we assume with responsibility to contribute to the development of the country. We do it through actions and activities that generate value and achieve an impact for the benefit of our community and for the benefit of all the Bolivian families.
What is your long-term banking strategy for continued growth and development?
The closest challenge that we have as Mercantil Santa Cruz Bank, is the investment in new digital solutions, new funcionalities and the investment in the improvement of the channels that we already have available to our clients. Likewise, we will keep improving each of our processes, always with the firm objetive to provide to our users, the best experience in the financial market.