Supply and demand: Open Marketplace reconnects the fintech ecosystem with BBVA’s needs

After two years developing and connecting startups with the bank’s lines of business, BBVA’s Open Marketplace is unveiling its new business needs. Many of the tech solutions seek to improve services to SMEs.

In these times of constant flux and technological advances, it’s imperative that large companies stay up to date. And with the BBVA Open Marketplace the bank can do exactly that. Since it was launched as the first platform created specifically to streamline relationships between BBVA and the innovation ecosystem, it has acted as a shop window, where its lines of business can find startups with which they can develop innovative solutions.

A prime example is how the Open Marketplace functions “in a similar way to a dating app”: the secret of all these types of platforms is “linking supply and demand, creating a marketplace for solutions and needs”, says Julio Pérez Piña, Platforms Manager for BBVA Open Innovation.

Since its first pilot in 2018, 173 business units have registered and more than 2,000 startups have signed up “from all the regions BBVA operates in, particularly Spain and Latin America, but also the US and Turkey” states Pérez. The platform has already notched up more than 500 connections between startups and BBVA.

Now the shop window is open for business once again, with new needs that seek to support specific company objectives. Anti-fraud solutions, improvements to international business, and support for SMEs’ invoice management systems are just some of the issues that it is hoped will be resolved through the fintech entrepreneurial ecosystem.

‘Open’ sign

BBVA’s strategy to continue innovating, staying permanently in touch with the ecosystem through BBVA Open Innovation, led it to launch the Open Marketplace platform almost two years ago. This platform aims to facilitate connections between various professionals in the fintech ecosystem and boost collaboration. Via the platform, the bank is looking to attract overseas talent to resolve domestic issues. Why look abroad?

“Because we need to position ourselves in the world. If not, we would have a particularly inward-looking vision – we’d think that things are only happening within our own bank, and that nothing abroad could even serve as inspiration” says Marta Viñas Sánchez, Internal Ecosystem Manager in the BBVA Open Innovation team.

By connecting with startups we can integrate their solutions, and we can also get inspired by them

She also outlined another advantage: the speed that can be achieved by looking at solutions to pilot that are actually already doing the rounds on the entrepreneurial circuit. “Startups are subject to different regulation, they’re much more agile, and they’re faster. We can’t turn our backs on this type of innovation”, she explains.

With the launch of the bank’s new business needs they hope to get visible results, and more. “By connecting with startups we can integrate their solutions, and we can also get inspired by them. It’s worth the effort, just for this”, says Viñas.

SMEs’ tech requirements

Business units’ needs are compiled regularly and published on the platform: “All the countries where BBVA has a presence prioritise their needs, and we analyse them with an internal filter that goes through various decision-makers at the bank”, explains Viñas.

In this new wave, Viñas emphasises that they are looking for solutions “aligned with the bank’s objectives” to capture new customers and open up new financial and non-financial services. “Right now, for us, relationships with small and medium-sized companies are crucial”, she adds.

 

 

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This is why many of the needs we’re looking to find solutions for via the platform hone in on the SME and self-employed segment. “For example, we’d like to perfect our digital onboarding in Mexico – because getting a company easy access is like giving them a letter of introduction. We’re looking for solutions to verify that an address belongs to someone without the need for any physical movement. It’s about being more efficient, and offering our customers an improved experience”, the manager outlines.

Some needs: improving contact details, anti-fraud solutions and processes to enhance risk procedures

Some of the solutions they’re now looking to the fintech ecosystem to provide relate to online administration, improving contact details, processes to enhance risk procedures, and turnover analysis to build offers and cross-sell.

The bank is also interested in exploring B2B2B (business to business to business), B2B2E (business to business to employee) and B2B2C (business to business to consumer) models, different ways of connecting individuals and businesses that already work with other businesses, and where BBVA is looking to “facilitate financial management and offer services to non-customers”.

A platform for connecting people

Opening up this window to the fintech ecosystem is a systematic process known as a seed project: first the business needs are identified; next comes the search for the right startups; and later, the connection is made between supply and demand, with 1:1 sessions with the owners of the priorities being worked on. This is the first approach made to ensure that the solutions respond to the needs being searched for. This way they can be selected to ultimately join the Fast Track programme – a methodology applied to a proof of concept or pilot that means it can be defined and implemented in the most agile way possible.

Algorithms compare the tags for the bank’s needs with the characteristics of startups, looking at similarity percentage scores

The platform cross-references data from the startups’ profiles with the bank’s needs. The match is done automatically – algorithms compare the tags for the bank’s needs with the characteristics of startups, looking at similarity percentage scores – but also personally. “Business unit managers check that the startups are what we’re looking for and we analyse the details”, says Pérez.

The Fast Track programme was one of the improvements set up in 2019: “We integrated the operational process into the platform”. This has been a hugely successful initiative, streamlining what would previously have taken weeks or months into a three-day definition process. In this part of the process, “we’re putting startups and stakeholders in touch to do a proof of concept or pilot” explains Pérez. This means that innovations happen much faster. As the expert explains, “more and more inertia builds up, and then things start happening”.

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