The chairman and CEO of BBVA, Spain's No. 2 bank, says the financial world is facing the enormous challenge of adapting itself to the technological revolution.
Harvard and MIT professors joined Francisco Gonzalez at an event in Cambridge, Massachusetts to discuss "Change: 19 Key Essays on How the Internet Is Changing Our Lives," the latest volume in BBVA's series on important contemporary issues.
The financial sector to date has been experiencing less of a challenge than other economic areas because it is very regulated, with long-time clients and having experienced enormous growth in the decades prior to the crisis, the BBVA chairman said.
"But a tsunami of change is just around the corner," Gonzalez said. "And a whole new league of competitors is starting to spring up, mostly, but not exclusively, from the online realm."
This transformation constitutes a great challenge, but also "a magnificent opportunity" for banks because the market is going to be truly universal and billions of people are going to participate who today do not have access to financial services, he said.
"Banks will be able to extend beyond the traditional financial domain, and potentially offer an endless range of knowledge-based products and services," Gonzalez said.
Within the BBVA Group, the chairman said, "we have been working hard for the past seven years to bring about the change that I believe our industry must urgently address: turning an analog bank, albeit one highly efficient and profitable by 20th-century standards, into one that's focused on knowledge services, thus rising to the far higher and more demanding standards of the 21st century." EFE