LOAN STAR

Colombia 2019 | FINANCE | INTERVIEW

Davivienda is moving forward with digitalization and trying to realize the aims of commercial and consumer clients using the latest mobile banking technology.

Efraín Enrique Forero Fonseca
BIOGRAPHY
Efraín Enrique Forero Fonseca has served as President of Davivienda since 1990. Inside the Bolívar Group he has accumulated an experience of over 32 years holding important positions as president of Delta Bolivar, a commercial finance company; the financial and administrative Management of Seguros Bolívar. He majored in banking at the University of the Andes, earned a masters in industrial engineering from the University of Michigan. While at Davivienda he has led major projects such as the conversion to banking, business consolidation through the acquisition of Bancafé and Bansuperior and positioning Davivienda as the third-most important bank in the country.

What contributed to the company's successful year in 2018?
2018 was a year of certain economic difficulties for the country. Despite that, we were able to grow in our commercial and business areas. We consolidated ourselves as the second bank in the country in terms of portfolio. That was also triggered by greater efficiency in banking processes. Our results were successful, and yet the key achievement concerns the digital transformation of the bank.

How have you managed to achieve such high levels of penetration for your digital services?
We launched our digital platform DaviPlata six years ago. Through it, we have been able to perform well, and, as a result, the bank ranks among the key players to boost financial inclusion across Colombia. Today, the platform provides many services for clients that they can also find at a regular bank. Every Colombian who has a mobile phone and an ID card can use this platform at zero cost. We have launched this platform in El Salvador, and are also planning to do so in Costa Rica, Panama and Honduras. We are well into the process of transformation all the bank into a 100% online financial institution. For example, today we can offer loans through our digital platforms in under five minutes. Nearly 70% of our clients are digital, and we expect to include additional services for retail customers. In June, we aim to launch many more online processes for investment banking. Through this strategy, we expect to reach more customers and make processes more efficient. Our goal is to be an institution that offers more than financial services. Our clients do not want a mortgage; they want a home, and we need to offer the right services enabling them to fulfill their wishes. For example, companies do not want loans, but to sell more. So, using that example, we must become a partner for them, facilitating the achievement of those targets.

You are set to partner Rappi and other companies in offering digital financial services. What makes Davivienda the right partner of choice for this endeavor?
We are about to announce a partnership with Rappi, which will be crucial in that the firm is known as the Colombian unicorn, enjoying a strong international presence. With this partnership we expect to surprise our clients. DaviPlata is a platform with 5 million customers, who have the opportunity to purchase goods anywhere. It is on that platform that we create alliances, one of which will be with Rappi. We intend to establish additional partnerships with others by leveraging this platform.

What role do the Central American countries play in Davivienda's portfolio?
The banks in Central America represent 25% of our business. It varies from country to country, but we are not the most important player in the region unlike other Colombian financial institutions. Our rivals there are achieving fantastic profits. Ours is good, too, but as yet continues to lag, and our strategy is to offer digital products that differentiate us in Central America, a market of significant potential.

New international players have entered Colombia. How has that affected the sector, and what steps have you taken to remain competitive?
Certain new players have come from across the region, while others have left, as was the case with Citi. These players have been important in prompting us to improve in many areas, such us financial inclusion, or risk management, for example, thereby rendering the sector more competitive. Davivieda must play a major role in the sector's changes. Indeed, we must play the lead role in this field. To do that, we must reinvent ourselves to offer added value and ensure sustainability. Colombia is an attractive country for international investors, especially since the peace agreement.