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Innovation strategy: BCP targets SMEs and young people

Oct 26, 2020

By Fabiola Seminario
Banco de Credito del Peru (BCP) is testing a digital savings service, and has proposed new products for SMEs...



Banco de Crédito del Perú (BCP) is developing digital tools to attract new clients, including young people in need of savings and entrepreneurs who require financial advice.

The new standard in the financial industry is to place the customer at the center of the business strategy, a concept that banks around the world are making an effort to implement with the help of technology.

With that in mind, the Peruvian bank recently launched Warda, a new development conceived in just a month and a half, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The market is moving towards young people and is generating new fronts. Saving was a big problem for this population,” explained Alana Visconti, manager of BCP’s Innovation Center.

“It’s not that young people didn’t want to save, but they didn’t know how, they didn’t have the means, the culture, something, to facilitate that capability. They needed a partner for that,” she added in a conversation with iupana.

For now, Warda is hosted on a web platform while it goes through an initial testing process. It is projected to be launched as an app by the end of the first quarter in 2021.

Visconti explained that they are in the process of validating the tool and the team is dedicated to optimizing the product’s performance, attracting customers and analyzing the data obtained to continue to improve the end user’s experience.

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The tool will help the subscribers define automatic savings rules and “goals” for the same purpose.

“The idea is to add multiple savings goals in Warda, such as voluntary contributions on top of the regular savings, and change the frequency of savings since currently it is biweekly and monthly; we want to take it to weekly and daily”, said the bank’s representative.

They also hope to improve the cash withdrawal system, which now takes a long time to set up. “We want the withdrawal to be automatic”, she explained.

For now, the expectation of adoption is to “try” to add all BCP clients and, for the next step, target external users; however, the director said that it is not a tool designed for outside client recruitment.

Regarding the interest rates earned, Visconti said that they hope to provide more attractive profits through the tool, but warned that it is a discussion that is still in the works.

“In this version we first want to validate the habit and automation of savings,” she said.

“An additional way is that for more sophisticated clients who already have significant savings and a differential rate, Warda would become a investment medium,” she stated.

The bank with the largest share of the Peruvian market, has also launched Yape, a mobile application that allows making transactions with a cell phone number or by scanning QR codes. New users can open accounts only with their identification card, and they expect to have about 5 million app users by the end of the year.

Supporting SMEs in the midst of the crisis

As a result of business shutdowns during lockdown, and the rising unemployment rate experienced as a result, the government launched the Reactiva Peru (Reactivate Peru) business financing program but, not many small businesses were able to access the program because they were unofficial businesses.

In view of this fact, BCP set up Grou, a digital solution that delivers “order and structure” to SMEs, in terms of daily earnings, expenses and tax compliance. In short, it is a first step to assist in the legality of business, a requirement to apply for official financing plans, Visconti explained.

“Grou allows them to enter expenses and sales of each day. It tells you how much you spent and sold, and takes away the math of whether you are meeting your goals. We learned that the entrepreneur did not have day-to-day awareness of his business,” she explained.

With Grou, the bank seeks to give entrepreneurs clues and insights into the financial health of their business. Eventually, the platform will be able to help them with tax returns and to have detailed reports of expenses and income.

In addition, Visconti anticipated another project they are working on; a platform that will allow them to make connections between businesses.

See also: Latam fintech investment turns virtual – mostly

“Because of the pandemic, many businesses had to reinvent themselves. We learned that it is not easy for a small or medium sized business to find new suppliers,” she said.

Physical visits to potential providers were diminished by social distancing, and even as the region’s economies slowly recover, many restrictions remain in place, limiting contact.

“One digital channel through which small business owners tend to look for suppliers is through Facebook, which is not necessarily a 100% reliable medium,” explained Visconti. The other is word of mouth, which, although safer, is very limited.

“Visits can be dangerous and inefficient these days […] we want to be a big and reliable digital word of mouth, because at BCP we know who our customers are, so we will provide security for businesses to connect,” said the executive.

Visconti recounted some of the lessons learned during this period and the result of the experience that the innovation area has gained since its creation in 2015: financial products and services must go beyond the banking business in order to create reciprocal benefits between the bank and their users.

“We have to create value around our customers, because if I give them value they become a better customer, indirectly it will benefit me. The evolution of banking is no longer just about granting loans or savings accounts, but about generating that ecosystem around the customers we have today,” she said.

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