The Business Year

Manuel A. Grullón

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC - Finance

New Generation Banking

President & CEO, Banco Popular Dominicano

Bio

Manuel A. Grullón holds a psychology degree from Tulane University and completed an MBA at New York University. In 1977, he started to work for INASCA, a company dedicated to the manufacture of industrial plastic containers and in 1981 moved to Banco Popular Dominicano, the first private capital bank in the Dominican Republic. In 1990, Grullón was appointed President of Banco Popular Dominicano, and six years later assumed the position of Executive Chairman of Grupo Popular. In 2014, he was named President of the Board of Directors of Grupo Popular.

TBY talks to Manuel A. Grullón, President & CEO of Banco Popular Dominicano, on the bank's strengths, its initiatives in mobile and internet banking, and improving access to the formal banking sector.

What were the reasons behind World Finance selecting Banco Popular as the best Dominican bank for the fifth straight year?

In 2016, Banco Popular Dominicano continued its growth trend, with excellent results and improvements in its main financial indicators. As part of our purpose of greater customer engagement, we expanded our offerings of products and services and strengthened consulting programs for individuals and businesses. In order to support our operations in all channels, important investment and initiatives were carried out to strengthen our technological infrastructure, which guarantees stability and availability of services to the clientele and improved the response times and orientation of the organization towards the future of banking. We have made available to our customers new digital solutions based on technological platforms and channels, which facilitate their interaction with our bank at any time and from any device and place. Our institution also introduced a new generation of ATMs, 204 units in 25 provinces, which allow customers to deposit cash with or without a debit card to their own or third-party accounts. In the same manner, in 2016 we continued the expansion of our sub-agent network Subagente Popular, a pioneer financial channel in the country. Today, this channel is present in all provinces of the national territory, with 1,620 affiliated points; this channel allows the client to make transactions and payments from a retail store, a drugstore, or a fuel station with the ease and availability expected. Within our segment of business clients, we have strengthened our leadership as the main lender of resources for the tourism sector, with a market share close to 50% of the total volume of loans granted, actively participating as a catalyst for the extraordinary performance of the Dominican Republic’s offer as a world-class tourist destination. Banco Popular Dominicano achieved significant quantitative gains at the end of November 2016, registering total assets of DOP329,549 million while total deposits presented DOP267,761 million.

Can you tell us more about Banco Popular’s leading role in internet and mobile banking and how technologies are transforming the way Dominicans bank?

The mobile has rapidly become the main channel for transactions, inquiries, and product acquisition. Therefore, Banco Popular Dominicano has developed plans to meet those expectations with the launch of our new apps Popular and tPago and the wallets Claro eFectivo Móvil and Orange mPeso. Popular has transformed our clients’ mobile experience with a new and more practical design that improves navigation for a better user experience. From their mobiles, our customers can withdraw cash from an ATM without a debit card, logging in with their fingerprint for easier and more secure use, make payments and transfers. New functionalities are developing to continue enhancing user experience for our clients. In addition, tPago has become the main platform for mobile payments, with more than 353,700 clients who can make payments, money transfers, or pay and disburse loans and other functionalities from their mobiles. We will incorporate new features in order to continue innovating on this platform as mobiles become the main transaction channel for our customers.

What is needed to allow better access to the formal banking sector for the high level of informality in the economy?

The high levels of informality in the country present an opportunity for the banking sector to contribute in the establishment of mechanisms that increase financial inclusion. A good example is the recent emergence of bank sub-agents, which have been designed so that people can conduct financial transactions in easily accessible commercial establishments such as pharmacies, grocery stores, and hardware stores; this, in turn, translates into lower transportation costs and easier access for customers. This mechanism also increases bank coverage at a lower cost in places where it is not feasible to set up a branch, as is the case of remote communities in the rural areas of the country. They have the potential to reduce the informality of the economy, because it encourages the formalization of businesses that work as partners of financial institutions.

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