FIDEL DURÁN

Ecuador 2020 | FINANCE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Fidel Durán, General Manager of Banco Solidario.

Fidel Durán
BIOGRAPHY

Thanks to his studies and work experience, Fidel Durán is one of the most renowned microfinance specialists in Ecuador. He has been working for Banco Solidario since 1996 in the areas of microfinance and strategic marketing and has held the position of general manager since 2014.

How has Banco Solidario contributed to the growth of microfinance in Ecuador?

Banco Solidario started as a bank specialized in financial inclusion. Over the last 25 years, we have added 1 million people to the financial system who were not attended by the traditional banking sector. Financial inclusion indicators in Ecuador are under average in Latin America, which means there is a great deal to do. The main players in the area, including the Ecuadorian Association of Private Banks (ASOBANCA) and the Association of Microfinance Institutions (ASOMIF), all seek to promote inclusion in the agenda of the government to boost financial inclusion. The central bank signed an agreement with the World Bank on financial inclusion, so the issue is becoming increasingly important in the country. There are about 5-6 million people who could potentially gain access to products from financial institutions. The main problem is the lack of a favorable regulation, so we expect to see certain changes from the government to boost this area. The countries with the best financial inclusion rates in Latin America have three characteristics: institutionalization of the sector, regulations, and a political agenda from the government. Colombia is a great example, as this process has been ongoing for the last decade, with success. Banco Solidario has 54 offices all over the country. Nevertheless, the biggest challenge is to start to attend to clients at the bottom of the financial pyramid and give them digital financial access.

Given the country's potential, how does Banco Solidario plan to increase the number of people in Ecuador with access to banking services?

Financial inclusion has been our focus, and we will be an important player to include a large percentage of those 5-6 million people that could be easily banked. The technological revolution generates certain tools that can make this process more efficient. We have a lab in which we prepare and develop new products, and we use digital transformation and innovation to improve financial inclusion. Banco Solidario was the first bank to do micro credits 25 years ago—among other products—so innovation is in our DNA. We are embracing technology without forgetting the personal approach needed for our business to work. For example, existing clients can renew their loans online, though its first loan has to be granted through a face-to-face approach to better understand the client's needs and situation.