10 June 2015
What is the effect of the mobile revolution on our daily lives? Jaume Giró, the CEO of “la Caixa” Banking Foundation, talks to GEN about the emotional ties between customers, their mobile phones and their banks, and explains how banking is adapting to the new digital user experience. Ahead of the GEN Summit next week in Barcelona, where he will be presiding over the Data Journalism Awards at CosmoCaixa on 18 June, Jaume Giró tells GEN what he is most looking forward to at the summit.
Q. How is the digital revolution affecting CaixaBank’s activities?
CaixaBank is currently the leading digital banking operator and has a particularly strong position in mobile banking, with 2.4 million mobile clients and more than 4.5 million users of at least one of our mobility services. In 2014, a total of 1,487 million mobile transactions were processed, positioning the mobile channel as the second most frequently used platform after the Línea Abierta website. The mobile channel is also set to become an even more important tool for interacting with customers over the next two years. Early adoption of the mobile channel has establishedCaixaBank as one of the leading mobile banking operators worldwide. According to the consulting firm Forrester, CaixaBank offers the second best mobile banking service in the world. Forrester’s 2014 Global Mobile Banking Functionality Rankings included comprehensive assessments of the basic financial apps provided by leading retail banks in their respective markets.
Q. What changes will there be to how users interact with their banks?
New technologies have opened up a range of new possibilities for interacting with clients in the financial sector. The boundaries between the different channels – website, mobile, ATMs, branches, etc. – are blurring and a new transverse user experience is emerging. Furthermore, the advent of the Internet of Things will usher in innovation and help provide ubiquitous financial services to clients as they go about their daily lives. Mobile devices have also opened fresh business opportunities and new means of securing customer loyalty. As well as representing a channel for services, mobile devices generate stronger emotional ties between customers and their banks.
Q. How is your bank readying itself for this new era? What applications does it have and who are they aimed at?
CaixaBank approaches innovation as a strategic challenge and also a distinguishing hallmark of the bank’s culture. In mobile banking specifically, CaixaBank was Spain’s first bank to provide mobile applications for iPhone and Android systems, and was the world’s first bank to create services such as a proprietary app store (CaixaMóvil Store), the first contactless-ready ATM for withdrawing cash using mobile devices and the first ever financial application for smartwatches. The bank recently became the world's first financial institution to create an application for Ford smart cars and the first in Europe to support voice-operated transactions.
Q. Could banking via computers and tablets be replaced? Are branches likely to play a less important role?
The key is the quality of the services provided. Therefore, any channels that banks harness to serve their clients, whether these be ATMs, mobile phones, new devices yet to be invented or even the branch network, must combine the best of both worlds: the latest technology and the finest specialised support from financial professionals, with all the added value that personalised service has to offer. But personalised consultancy does not necessarily mean there is no role for traditional bank branches to play. For example, at CaixaBank we have created a mobile financial device, similar to the system that account managers use at their offices, but giving them the mobility to arrange transactions and sign product and service contracts from any location. This means we can visit clients at their offices or homes rather than them having to come to us. The platform has been introduced very successfully in the business, personal and private banking segments.
Q. Are you supporting emerging digital business models and digital startups?
The “la Caixa” Group includes a venture capital firm, Caixa Capital Risc, which specialises in identifying innovative companies that have strong growth potential and supporting their development. The firm has invested 144 million euros and operates 7 specialised investment vehicles, including two (Caixa Capital Micro I and II) dedicated to startups and five that specialise in sectors such as the internet, digital businesses, industry and life sciences.
Q. What are you most looking forward to at the GEN Summit?
CaixaBank is a partner of the Global Editors Network and helps organise the Data Journalism Awards Ceremony that ends the annual event in Barcelona. CaixaBank welcomes the Data Journalism Awards, which is a great initiative to promote the development of innovative information models. The event is also held at CosmoCaixa, one of the flagship facilities operated by the “la Caixa” Banking Foundation, CaixaBank’s majority shareholder. The “la Caixa” Foundation is committed to, among other things, promoting culture and education, encouraging a scientific calling amongst young people and supporting research to help drive social progress.