DIANA ÁLVAREZ MAURY

Mexico 2021 | FINANCE | INTERVIEW

The social bank for the poorest population in Mexico, Banco del Bienestar aims to generate real financial inclusion as well as encourage territorial and community development.

Diana Álvarez Maury
BIOGRAPHY

Diana Álvarez Maury was born in Mexico City and has a degree in law from ITAM and an MBA from the University of Las Americas. She was previously coordinator and director of the law program in UDLA for over 10 years and actively participated in the design and review of academic programs as well as accreditation processes nationally and internationally. Since 2018, she was invited by the president to occupy the role of subsecretariat of democratic development, social participation, and religious matters. She has been Director General of Banco del Bienestar since July 2020.

What is your vision for Banco del Bienestar as its newly named Director General?

My vision is to position Banco del Bienestar as Mexico's main development bank. We will bring financial services to the most remote villages in the country and reach those Mexicans who have historically lacked access to financial products, services, and education. The bank will promote financial inclusion through a large network of more than 2,700 branches and offer tailor-made products designed to address the needs of our target market. Eventually, that financial inclusion will lead to financial development, and our clients will have access to the financial tools required to develop both personal financial health and business ventures.

What are some of the challenges of offering services to Mexico's poorest communities located in isolated areas of the country?

The first challenge is that there are no banks or ATMs in these remote areas. This is why Banco del Bienestar has an expansion project, because first we have to create the banking infrastructure. We need to bring internet connectivity to these areas; otherwise, we cannot operate or develop special programs. We need some of our people in the territory so they can help locals and offer financial education because the members of these communities have never had bank accounts or a relationship with a bank. It is a truly significant challenge for us.

How do you adapt your banking services to people who are being paid in cash and do not have any formal income history?

One of our most important projects is the social assistance we provide. Currently, some of these aids are through debit cards, but others still relate to cash. We have to change this and give cash in fewer situations. We are trying to make formal banking a reality. This is what we have in the planning stage now. For example, we are developing digital files and helping people learn how to use digital banking services, such as debit cards and ATMs, which some older people are afraid to use. We have to show them the way and educate them.

What are some of the other projects Banco del Bienestar is currently developing?

The extension of our network with 2,700 new branches is currently the most challenging project I am leading. In addition to the construction of the branches, we need to review and upgrade our entire commercial operations, including products, communications, software, hardware, HR, and suppliers, among others. Our most important government project is to manage all the social aid programs through Banco del Bienestar. This requires a large effort to open debit accounts for all clients in social aid programs who currently receive social aid in cash or through other banks. Importantly, many of these social aid programs are now protected as human rights under our federal constitution. Banco del Bienestar has a social commitment to foster financial inclusion among all Mexican citizens by offering a broad portfolio of financial tools focused on our current and potential clients' needs. The bank also provides financial education to help Mexicans value the benefits of developing a financial plan, avoid debt, and form a savings strategy.

Will Banco del Bienestar collaborate with fintechs on its new technological infrastructure?

We are currently evaluating what we need for this big expansion. There are 23-25 million people receiving social aid, plus other potential new clients, so we will significantly increase our capacity. We need specialized technology for this, and other experts are helping us evaluate this along with Banjercito. Once these decisions are made, we will form alliances with private companies that have the specialist banking technology we require. It will also be good to develop some products and services that will help us better serve our target market such as personal loans, comparative loans, insurance, social aid programs, investments, and specific services for Mexicans living abroad.