The coronavirus pandemic is accelerating the digital transformation in the Ecuadorian financial system. From face-to-face service windows, customers are increasingly migrating to new ways of transacting on virtual channels.
If before COVID-19 it was estimated that four out of ten transactions were made by digital means, now there are banks that report levels above that indicator.
The circumstances of the confinement forced many to turn to digital channels using their cell phones or computers. And after the relaxation of the measures there is a segment of the population that seems to get used to them, executives say.
According to the latest data available from the Association of Banks of Ecuador (Asobanca), banking transactions carried out through digital channels have had an increase of 26% during the first half of 2020 compared to the same period of 2019. On the other hand, transactions in physical agencies they were reduced by 39% in that period.
Julio José Prado, executive president of Asobanca, assures that practically now all banking transactions can be carried out through digital platforms and web pages.
Some banks have more digital penetration than others. In Banco Pichincha, the largest in the national system, 69.78% of operations are already carried out online, in web banking and mobile banking.
“At the moment, 1.5 million customers use digital channels to carry out their transactions,” says Ignacio Maldonado, executive vice president of Business at that bank.
In a scenario where customers have been searching for these channels, banks are trying to make them more functional and easily accessible. Pichincha completed this year the redesign of its application for transactions from cell phones, which has three access methods: biometric recognition, six-digit pin, and username and password.
Maldonado indicates that the three transactions that are most carried out through the mobile banking application are direct and interbank transfers, payment of services and payment of cards.
22% of banking operations are carried out in the application. In September alone, 17 million transactions were made through mobile banking.
Daniel Dressler, head of service channels at Banco ProCredit, maintains that during this period of pandemic they enhanced the mechanism for payment of services, transfers, and the use of ATMs for withdrawals and deposits.
The executive refers that before the pandemic the bank already had a high level of digitization. More than 99% of cash operations are carried out in digital channels or ATMs (automated teller machines).
Dressler points out that one of the benefits of using a digital channel is that, depending on the financial institution, there are digital transactions that do not require additional charges.
The matter is also a matter of saving time. A client who goes to an agency for a face-to-face transaction can use up to an hour of their time to complete the process, while through digital channels that same process can take between three and five minutes from a computer or mobile phone, say others. executives.
What happens in Ecuador is not alien to other countries in Latin America, which is experiencing one of the greatest digital transformations. A study on digital banking by the consulting firm Americas Market Intelligence indicates that 55% of Latin American consumers have a bank account and that more than half of them already carry out their banking transactions online.
The new digital times are also influencing banks to move towards new concepts of agencies that are closer to virtual centers or agencies. The Banco del Pacífico , for example, a few weeks ago replaced a physical agency, with windows, that it had in Paseo Shopping on the road to Daule with a virtual center.
There he placed multifunctional ATMs that allow the customer to make transactions, such as cash deposits and checks and service payments. This bank has been placing these types of ATMs in different parts of the country.
On average, Banco del Pacífico’s electronic channels carry out a total of 4.1 million monthly transactions, of which 4 million are carried out through ATMs and around 100,000 in self-service kiosks, according to the entity.
Produbanco also began a plan to reconversion of its offices, in which it merges the concept of traditional agency and business center.
The first of these offices was opened this month in the Mall del Sol in Guayaquil and has a self-service space with digital service channels. Customers have a Wi-Fi network to activate the bank’s services.
It also went from the traditional desk service to more functional stations, where executives serve according to customer needs.
“The bank plans to have more offices with these service concepts,” says José Ricaurte, Vice President of Retail Banking. (I)
The future of agencies
Julio José Prado, president of Asobanca
“Throughout this time, the bank has been developing a digitization process to provide quality services to its customers and without a doubt the trend will go in that direction, seeking to innovate in practical products that save time and make life easier for the customer.
Clearly, as a result of the effects of the pandemic, the adoption of digital channels has increased, which will continue to demand more investments to continue with the digitization of banking services.
However, circumstances like the current ones demand, more than ever, an understanding and personalized attention. Although there is an increase in the demand for digital services, today there are still many users who prefer to make use of banking services through traditional channels.
For this reason, banks are also working on perfecting all their service modalities, so that together they adjust to the different needs of customers and thus improve the user experience, with multi-channel service ”. (OR)