Two BBVAMF experts tell us how digitalization helps the most vulnerable

Gabriela Eguidazu, Director of Innovation for Inclusive Growth at the BBVA Microfinance Foundation (FMBBVA), has more than 18 years of experience in the financial sector. In 2012, she joined Bancamía, the Colombian microfinance institution of the BBVAMF, where she was vice president for Digital Transformation and Innovation. Since 2022 she is responsible for the digitalization strategy, environmental sustainability and economic empowerment of women.

“Parametric insurance is a clear example of combining data and technology”, Gabriela Eguidazu, Director of Innovation for Inclusive Growth at the BBVA Microfinance Foundation

“Digital inclusion of the underserved is more viable through technology”, Yuri Dolorier, Operations, Technology and Channels Division Manager at Financiera Confianza

Yuri Dolorier, Operations, Technology and Channels Division Manager at Financiera Confianza, has extensive experience in the financial and microfinance sector. He has developed his professional career in the areas of Risk Management and Business and Product & Services Development at BBVA and Financiera Confianza, the institution of BBVAMF in Peru.

In this issue, Progreso magazine interviews these two experts in innovation about technology with purpose and its capacity to create real opportunities for development.

 - Specialists emphasize the importance of the "user experience" when designing a digital tool. When technology is for people in vulnerability, as is the case at BBVAMF: What needs to be taken into account?
Yuri Dolorier:  Technology must be uncomplicated and user-friendly. For example, an entrepreneur who lives in a rural area takes 4 hours to get to the branch office to make his financial transactions, which forces him to close his business during those hours and stop earning income. To solve this problem, Financiera Confianza set up banking correspondents, small businesses in rural areas, such as a pharmacy, whose owners we train so that they can carry out financial transactions like in a branch office. They save entrepreneurs time and money.
 We have solved that problem, but we must continue to innovate: before we relied on a dataphone and a printer to make these transactions, and now thanks to our banking correspondent app we use voice biometrics and QR codes to authenticate transactions. In addition, we have satellite agents that enable Internet connectivity in remote rural areas, providing access to tele-education or telemedicine. With this model, we carry out more than 300,000 transactions per month in Peru. But we do not want to abandon relationship banking, and our advisors continue to visit the businesses of entrepreneurs as they need personalized face-to-face attention as well.
Yuri Dolorier and Gabriela Eguidazu, on the panel of experts at the BBVAMF event Technology to close gaps Yuri Dolorier and Gabriela Eguidazu, on the panel of experts at the BBVAMF event Technology to close gaps
- BBVAMF entrepreneurs live in areas highly affected by climate change, and their socioeconomic situation makes them more vulnerable to adverse weather events. When the priority is to cover basic needs, protecting themselves for the future is put on the back burner, how can technology help in these cases?
Gabriela Eguidazu: The Secretary General of the United Nations World Meteorological Organization has already warned that in Latin America and the Caribbean the consequences of climate change are going to be very intense. Therefore it is very important for the region to adopt early measurement systems. Along that line, we are working on the creation of maps that will allow us to determine the climate vulnerability of entrepreneurs. We take meteorological data, such as rainfall, frost or drought, and cross-reference it with the geolocation of the entrepreneurs to determine their level of exposure to climate effects. This information is very useful and helps us to determine what kind of measures they need: for example, training or financing to implement a climate adaptation measure such as soil reconstruction or conservation agriculture, or if they live in a high-risk area, insurance to protect themselves. These types of products that we are developing allow them to be much more resilient and help them mitigate the impact of climate. We are currently supporting more than 165,000 entrepreneurs with some of these measures and we are committed to increasing this figure.
- To continue with figures, more than 800,000 entrepreneurs are already using the mobile banking apps of BBVAMF microfinance institutions. What is so special about these applications?

Gabriela Eguidazu, Director of Innovation for Inclusive Growth at the BBVA Microfinance Foundation (FMBBVA) and Yuri Dolorier, Operations, Technology and Channels Division Manager at Financiera Confianza

Yuri Dolorier: We are at the forefront of many technological solutions, nevertheless there are many challenges. For example, our entrepreneurs forget their passwords or their fingerprints have deteriorated due to the type of manual work they do, or their cell phone is low-end or they have a low level of digital financial education, which can reach 90% of cases in rural areas. For this reason we have implemented different solutions: for example, facial and voice biometrics for accessing mobile banking and performing transactions at branches. In just 6 seconds, customers can authenticate their transactions using voice biometrics in any dialect spoken in Peru. 60% of our entrepreneurs no longer go to the agency to formalize their loans and do so using electronic contracting. In addition, migrant entrepreneurs of any nationality can open a digital savings account: in fact Financiera Confianza is the first Peruvian financial institution that has integrated migrants' documents into its core banking system.
It is important to humanize technology, especially when it is designed for low-income people for whom digital tools are not so familiar. Hence the importance of our digital corners, physical spaces in the branches where our digital ambassadors accompany entrepreneurs in their digital education. The process of integration into the digital ecosystem through Bing will allow our clients to carry out their transactions securely and free of charge. The BBVAMF institutions have already carried out 25 million digital transactions.
- Technology and data analysis always go hand in hand. In which BBVAMF products is this pairing particularly visible? 
Gabriela Eguidazu: Parametric insurance is a clear example of how, by combining data and technology, we are tackling the consequences of a real problem such as climate change. According to large insurance companies, only 7% of losses due to natural disasters are insured in low- and middle-income countries, which has extremely high economic and social consequences for these people. We have designed insurance to protect entrepreneurs from extreme weather events.
Parametric insurance makes the claim process much easier for the entrepreneur, as it is based on parameters (e.g. rainfall) and thresholds, so that when these thresholds are exceeded, the system detects it, and automatically geolocates the affected persons, and the insurer automatically pays them the compensation through a savings account (without the need for a claim by the insured). This is very convenient for them: it is a direct payment that allows them to face unforeseen expenses or losses due to having the business closed.
- Can you share a message for the future on the use of technology?
Yuri Dolorier: Let's keep making things happen. Digital inclusion of the underserved is more viable through technology. We must continue to work tirelessly in the search for innovative, easy, friendly and above all safe solutions, always maintaining the human component through constant and close support to bring our solution, our value proposition, to the doors of the homes of entrepreneurs.
Gabriela Eguidazu: I think the main message is that when we combine the extraordinary desire people have to get ahead with the financial services we offer them and put technology within their reach, we are really contributing to lifting them up and out of poverty.