The Business Year

Mario Maciel Castro

Director General, CI Banco

Francisco Meré Palafox

Director General, Bankaool

Beyond just providing services, a focus on the customer is first and foremost for banks today.

How has the bank evolved since its establishment?

MARIO MACIEL CASTRO When we received the approval for being a bank it was the crisis of 2008; therefore, our business plan was modified because of financial economic environment. The Mexican banking system was strong and we faced that crisis well. Money is a commodity, which means price is not really an issue. The focus needs to be service. Our customers are looking for security. All the banks in Mexico are strong and are well capitalized and they have a net equity ratio above the standard. We have a base of 10.5 and the authorities are looking for at least 12 and internally we are trying to be close to 13. The Mexican banking system in the national banking commission statistics is well capitalized and security is not as issue; the issue is service. That is what we are doing in order to be competitive with other banks. We are convinced customers seek service and will perhaps pay a little more in order to receive that service. What is important to us is that we must provide excellent service at a good price with security with a secure bank behind. Of course, there are certain products that we cannot provide because it is a matter of infrastructure. Our strengths are the FX market, trust market, and auto loan market; nevertheless, we have a whole range of products like any other bank.

FRANCISCO MERÉ PALAFOX Mexico faces serious problems in terms of financial inclusion, where approximately 50% of people do not have a bank account. Not having a bank account has many implications, not only in terms of financial inclusion of course but also in terms of excluding people from financial services and e-commerce. In today’s world, being digitally excluded is a tremendous setback. The issue is also not only about covering people who are excluded but also reaching out to people who are not satisfied with their banks; a world banking report published by Cap Gemini has an index on consumer satisfaction and Mexico has seen a reduction in the last few years. There is, therefore, an opportunity to grow in the Mexican banking sector, which is why we established the bank. The question was how to develop a business model and bank that could cover a number of issues, namely overcoming many of the issues of inclusion and developing a better experience even for unsatisfied customers of traditional banks, and even for people living in remote or suburban areas, all under a framework of being innovative to disrupt the market and become a challenger bank. That is what we decided to do with technology, building a fintech bank as this was clearly the way to go for various reasons. The cost of serving and the number of companies we serve can be exponential without the physical expenses of branches or infrastructure that people no longer want to use. The cellphone coverage is sufficient and people are switching their consumption patterns to being more digital through e-commerce and using digital platforms for many purposes.

What sets your bank apart from others?

MMC At times, certain companies ask who will be in charge of my company relationship with CI Banco and I say “I will be your accounts officer; if you ring me I will try to make things happen.” One does not always need the human side on the other side of the telephone line but sometimes it is important to talk with one’s account officer. In our niche, we have branches, but people sometimes do not like to go to a branch, they want to have someone to call when there is a problem and so for that they need an accounts officer who is responsible for their account. We have branches because we must locate our account officers close to the customers; that is the kind of service that we must develop.

FMP There are three main differences. The first is that the bank is more a technology company than a bank. We are in the business of banking as well as the business of e-commerce. A customer cannot open a bank account online with a standard bank and they have to go to a physical branch as opposed to doing it online and with the satisfied experience of e-commerce. Our products are designed in this way unlike banks, which are in the journey of digitalizing their processes as we develop products and processes that are digitally native. Secondly, as we have the mindset of being a technology company, we are quick to innovate and go to the market, even using A/B testing of parts. The product development cycle in a typical bank takes a long time and an advantage of being digital is that as we can better understand the patterns in the digital world of our customers and what they do online and thus better develop products that actually meet their demands.



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