Through a range of technology initiatives, Banco Hipotecario has taken banking to the people of El Salvador, so that they can fulfil their true potential
Banco Hipotecario was originally established 80 years ago to support El Salvador’s agricultural sector. The bank has since branched out into new areas of business, providing financial solutions to SMEs, which comprise the core of its client base. With the arrival of current President, Celina Padilla Meardi, Banco Hipotecario has become focused on enhancing its services through the digitisation of key processes, and the launch of a new range of targeted products.
One of the most significant changes under Ms Padilla Meardi is the reappraisal of the bank’s corporate culture, which is now geared towards innovation and financial inclusion: issues intrinsically linked to the country’s economic development. This new course has not only strengthened the bank’s spheres of influence, but also allowed it to fulfill a key objective – playing a greater role in Salvadoran society.
The bank now operates a loan portfolio designed to provide economic support for micro- and small-to-medium-enterprises (MSMEs). This helps in a number of ways by providing working capital and finance, home purchase schemes, and other loans for Salvadoran agribusinesses, along with many other types of enterprises.
One of the areas the Banco Hipotecario is especially focused on is financial inclusion. It has developed two new streamlined account services BH Lite and BH 365, which have brought banking to a segment of the Salvadoran population that was previously without access.
They allow people to make cash transfers, purchases and electronic payments through their smartphones, which reduces the risks of carrying physical money. It also helps foster an e-commerce culture that is new to the country.
As part of its social and environmental commitment, Banco Hipotecario is a founding member of the Principles of Responsible Banking, as laid out by the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative. The system promotes globally-recognised practices for the care of the planet and its resources, reducing the negative impact of industry and promoting sustainable practices.
The bank’s CSR commitment ties in with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, of which Banco Hipotecario is implementing eight, including, climate action; gender equality; industry; innovation and infrastructure; and decent work and economic growth.
Through its corporate social responsibility initiatives, Banco Hipotecario aims to generate a positive societal impact through four pillars of action: Employment Practices, Community, Customers, and Environment.
And now with the emergence of Covid-19 pandemic, El Salvador has been quick to take economic measures to minimise the impact of the disease.
Banco Hipotecario has been highly proactive in developing measures to reduce the impact of the virus, and is the only bank in El Salvador to provide a loan that allows companies to pay their staff, and cover basic services, such as customs costs and other expenses. Similarly, for its clients, a grace period up to six months has been provided for the payment of their loan installments and the restructuring of financing in order to maintain the productivity of Salvadorans.
One of the key elements in preventing the spread of Covid-19 is the use of the bank’s digital channels, such as BH e-Banking, WhatsApp and the bank’s social media, in order to engage with customers from the comfort of their homes.
Banco Hipotecario is an institution adapting to economic transformation. It is proving its resourcefulness in the current crisis by demonstrating customer and employee care and showing the way forward for El Salvador.