19 April 2024

Banking excellence in Latin America

| The European |

Banco de la Producción S.A. – Produbanco – has remained wholly focused on the four pillars of its long-term strategic plan, namely responsible risk management, expanding its presence in personal banking, credit and debit cards, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and commercial middle market. When combined, all of these strategic plans ensure the bank maintains market dominance in corporate banking and to be at the cutting edge of omnichannel banking. This strategy has so far yielded impressive results and in the face of mounting bank operating challenges in Ecuador.

In terms of asset size, Produbanco is the third-largest commercial bank in the country at present. It is also part of Grupo Promerica, an international financial holding corporation with a visible banking presence in eight other Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Cayman Islands, Nicaragua, Panama and the Dominican Republic. Incorporated in 1978 and headquartered in Ecuador’s capital city, Quito, Produbanco has shown tremendous capacity for growth over the years, to the extent that today it can boast of having an extensive network of 115 full service branches, 67 transactional branches under its subsidiary brand Servipagos, 1,535 PagoAgil kiosks, and 300 ATMs, all of which sufficiently service close to 705k customers.

Indeed, it is the unwavering commitment towards those customers for which Produbanco is arguably best known and which it considers its highest priority. The bank’s desire to provide the highest possible standards of customer service continues to remain unrivalled throughout Ecuador, especially when one observes the lengths to which it goes in order to cultivate the best, most fruitful relationships with each individual customer. Moreover, in order to facilitate such an ethos all available resources are called upon, whether in the form of the best banking professionals in the industry or the smart utilisation of the latest technologies.

Through the strength of such customer relationships, Produbanco is now the seller of a remarkably diverse suite of products, each of which has been meticulously designed to satisfy the most pressing needs of specific customer segments. The corporate sector is the bank’s flagship market, one in which it is the country’s undisputed leader. Indeed, it is its excellence in this sector in particular that has earned Produbanco its reputation for possessing an avid lending appetite, despite the deterioration in operating conditions that continues to plague Ecuador’s banking sector.

A stimulus for SME growth

In terms of potential growth areas, Produbanco has specifically identified SMEs as its main target – a sector that is also a crucial growth engine for Ecuador’s economy overall. Produbanco’s SME banking unit provides a fast and flexible service to its SME customers, all the while providing an integrated advisory service that enables customers to capitalise on the expertise of the bank’s commercial team, as well as to enjoy a highly-tailored portfolio of products that has been designed closely in response to the most common financial needs of SMEs. Last year saw Produbanco grow its presence in the SME banking sector by creating a suite of imaginative, specialised products, such as ones that include funding for working capital, fixed-asset financing, green lines, and a focused credit card.

Ricardo Cuesta Delgado, CEO of Produbanco

Retail banking is another area in which Produbanco continues to shine ever brighter. More recently, it has been mainly focusing on creating a single, cohesive brand experience for its customers, through which they can potentially gain access to the various benefits and products that are available. On this basis, the bank launched a handful of products that are designed to address the specific needs of its customers. In addition to specific banking divisions, technology plays a pivotal role in Produbanco achieving its stated objectives. The bank has now established the solid foundations of its ‘Omnichannel Project’, which provides the customer with a consistent format for its banking services across all consumer devices. Thus, it enables user-friendliness and usability irrespective of whether a customer wishes to access a service on a mobile phone or a desktop computer. As such, customers are given a seamless technological network on which to complete their bank transactions.

In terms of specific virtual service channels, the most crucial of Produbanco’s recent innovations has been the launch of the mobile application, which allows customers to not only check their account and credit-card balances and transactions but also to make transfers, payments for services and airtime top-ups. Banking information is also now at the customer’s fingertips, including the nearest locations of branches and ATMs, as well as information about the latest banking products and special offers.

As a complement to the digital transformation of Produbanco, the past year, along with the ‘Payphone Company’ at the forefront of innovation, made the launch of the first mobile payment system of the country, allowing customers to pay with credit and debit cards through a Smartphone, following the download of the app and registration.

Banking for the 21st century

An essential part of Produbanco´s strategy is a strong focus towards innovation, based on technological developments with the aim of providing better experiences for our customers. This focus on innovation, coupled with an analysis of the millennials behaviour, was reflected in its recently launched new Digital Account ‘be Produbanco’, which provides a tool to digital users in their personal finances making life easier and more convenient, for example without the need for visiting a bank branch. The innovative app, which can be downloaded for free from digital stores – App Store and Google Play – allows our customers to open the account directly from this platform, without approaching a branch. This solution helps to resource management with total ease and security, by accessing it from any mobile device with connection to the Internet 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.

A socially responsible organisation

Largely focusing on delivering financial education to various groups in Ecuador, Produbanco’s corporate-social-responsibility initiatives continue to achieve a host of impressive results. Produbanco’s main approach is to raise awareness about the importance of personal finance, as well as to providing training on 15 practical aspects of daily finance, the use of e-channels and the safety measures that should be taken. Again, technology lies at the heart of this Produbanco endeavour, with the bank using several media channels to spread its message.

Elsewhere, Produbanco is heavily involved in assisting Ecuador’s underprivileged communities. Its most important association pertaining to such work is with the Su Cambio por el Cambio Foundation, through which it has provided crucial support in the rescue, education and re-insertion of approximately 6,000 vulnerable children and adolescents. It has also assisted in materially improving the quality of life for around 400 families stretched across 18 communities within the province of Bolívar, the poorest among all Ecuadorian provinces. In addition, more than 300 children and adolescents received important nutrition and dietary advice from the bank, while the care of 80 senior citizens was also supported.

Produbanco is also at the forefront of the global shift towards clean-energy adoption, away from activities that generate an abundance of carbon emissions. The year 2016 marked the second year in a row that it received a ‘Carbon Neutral Certification’, which is an official recognition of the organisations that are intent on promoting activities that reduces and offsets carbon emissions generated by their own operations. The bank also runs several energy-awareness campaigns to ensure its employees have sufficient knowledge about their use of resources, especially pertaining to the use of paper, water and energy. Emissions have further been offset by the bank via the sponsorship of 950 hectares of forest in the Zamora province, which has enabled the bank to laudably offset 100 percent of its emissions. In so doing, the bank provides a shining example of ecological efficiency and of how to go about utilising resources carefully.

This year Produbanco will approach the halfway point in its aim to achieve its stated strategic objectives for 2015 to 2020. The objectives include the continuation of its customer-centred culture, enhancing inter-relationships between the different market segments and strengthening the relationships of existing customers by giving them the most innovative forms of technology available. The final objective is for the bank to exploit the strengths of the Produbanco brand and corporate image.

Given that the successes of the bank have been achieved against a backdrop of Ecuador’s faltering economy, it could be rightly argued that these successes were its hardest one. Therefore, it would be reasonable to assume that moving forward the bank is on course to prosper by an even greater degree, particularly given an expected oil price rise and the nation begins to recover. To conclude, it can be confidently claimed therefore that Produbanco’s best days are ahead of them.

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