The bank’s connection continues to support the innovation ecosystem, providing a bridge between entrepreneurs and BBVA’s business units. This year it has diversified its collaborations, building partnerships with startups in different sectors, and has boosted its events ecosystem and commitment to sustainability.
Thanks to open innovation, companies go beyond their limits, committing to a culture of collaboration and dialogue. For another year, BBVA Open Innovation has given the bank the opportunity to find value from outside and reinvent itself alongside startups, in order to keep offering the best products and services to its customers. Entrepreneurs are the levers of change towards a sustainable and digital “new normal”, and the financial sector will always be by their side to support their proposals.
The health crisis has not stopped BBVA Open Innovation from continuing to forge alliances and establish agreements with various agents in the ecosystem. “In this extremely difficult year, during which remote working has been a true ally, our greatest achievement has been to keep being relevant for the bank, driving its capacity for innovation”, states Ainhoa Campo, Global Head of BBVA Open Innovation. Now that 2021 is coming to a close, we take stock of everything that has been achieved this year and how open innovation, technology and sustainability have inspired us to go further.
BBVA Open Innovation has always had a leaning towards fintech, but this year it wanted to diversify its avenues of collaboration, committing to solutions that promote overseas trade and the internationalisation of companies, for example. “We no longer just provide banking services to our customers, instead we’re looking to offer them everything they need based on their financial requirements”, explains Campo. In 2021 BBVA Open Innovation achieved a total of 196 collisions with startups, which translated into collaborative projects that are offering real solutions to the bank’s customers.
In this sense, Campo highlights specific cases. For example, despite the startup Trucksters being a logistics company rather than a fintech, it has entered into a collaboration with BBVA so that its business clients that need to import or export products can save money while helping the environment. A similar thing has happened with the partnership with Usyncro (formerly e-Customs), a global trading company that has signed an agreement with BBVA to digitise and internationalise SMEs.
Meanwhile in Latin America, Campo puts the spotlight on software startup Glassbox, which analyses user data and is helping BBVA Mexico to better understand its customers in order to provide them with automated and personalised services.
During 2021, sustainability has been the main trend across all sectors. It has been shown that creating alliances is vital in achieving solutions that improve the environmental performance of corporations. “Banking has a lot to contribute in this respect – at BBVA we have not only set decarbonisation targets, but we are also helping our customers on their journey towards reducing emissions”, explains Campo.
At the same time, BBVA Open Innovation’s Global Head adds that, within the fintech sector, BBVA has managed to position itself as a benchmark in decentralised economy. In June the organisation managed to launch a crypto currency trading and safekeeping service in Switzerland, after having spotted investor interest in these digital assets.
Campo also notes that another trend in the banking sector in 2021, which BBVA will remain committed to in 2022, is open banking. This is about going one step further in the digital transformation, sharing financial information in a secure, digital fashion and under conditions approved by the customer. “It’s an opportunity to reach our customers in a more personalised way, putting them in the centre, to offer them services that are better adapted to their needs and at the right moment”, she says.
A commitment to diverse sectors, backing the development of fintech ideas and solutions, and really focusing on sustainability and digitisation are all part of the DNA of BBVA Open Innovation. And it’s not just about doing it, it’s about sharing it too.
Since the pandemic began there has been a 1000% increase in virtual events, according to an Eventcase article. This format has made it possible to keep offering talks and training sessions to help people better understand their environment, as well as increasing the potential target audience and facilitating access by removing geographical boundaries.
In this sense, BBVA has worked intensively to deepen ties with startups and share knowledge, and data from 2021 backs that up. This year there were six global Open Talks, eight Open Talks in Spain and three in Mexico, where top experts from the world of finance covered topics as diverse as new tech trends and fintech innovations, to the use of techniques such as backcasting and the importance of new sustainability challenges.
In addition, BBVA Open Innovation has continued to add value for entrepreneurs by organising 38 virtual InnovaHome Festival events. This is a series of webinars and interviews, focusing on social and digital transformation and financial education, featuring global innovation experts.
In total, the events represent 4260 minutes of playback and have been viewed 59,476 times on YouTube. The average rating from participants in Spain was 87.75% and 89% in Mexico. “Thanks for all the information you’re making available to us”, said one user on the ‘Tips to prevent phishing’ talk. For the ‘Discovering the new way of banking: Open Banking’ presentation, one attendee commented: “Excellent presentation of the topic, essential for anyone who moves in the financial industry.”
One of the most important events of the year was the 2021 BBVA Hackathon, which brought together 752 international participants virtually in order to find the most brilliant and innovative ideas. In the end, BBVA Open Innovation decided to reward the business vision of five students who, in just three days, managed to develop an app that manages and integrates payments for all the services the user wants to use. The platform also organised nine Innovation Masterclasses in Spain and four in Mexico, providing training on the gig economy, quantum computing and design thinking.
At the end of 2021 where recovery and a more hopeful horizon are in sight, Campo wants to highlight the importance of open innovation: “Our mission is to create opportunities for everyone in this new era. To do this, we know that we have to import the best capabilities and solutions.” She insists that they have to remain aware of all the knowledge that lies outside the bank and to commit to opening a dialogue with other agents of the ecosystem, to detect what symbiotic relationships might arise. As Global Head of BBVA Open Innovation concludes: “We know that, together, we’ll go even further.”