Dominican multiple banking has made notable progress in innovation and technology in the last two decades by incorporating digital tools and decentralising its services through alternative channels. Banco Popular Dominicano stays at the vanguard of digital transformation with innovative technologies that make life easier for customers, improve process efficiency and expand the reach of its promise of value to society.
The Multiple Bank Association of the Dominican Republic (ABA, according to its acronym in Spanish) recently detailed that the Dominican banking sector registered a total of 5.1 million Internet banking users in 2022, which means an increase of 3.4 million in absolute terms and 302 percent in relative terms since 2015.
Banco Popular Dominicano, the first private capital bank in the Dominican Republic, has been moving forward on improving the efficiency of its operations and consolidating its leadership at the forefront of the digital and technological transformation of Dominican financial services, accelerating the innovation process to expand its transactional capacity and support the bank’s future growth.
Banco Popular Dominicano was recognised as the most digital and sustainable bank of 2022, and its mobile application, the ‘Popular App,’ is the best in its segment, according to World Finance. In 2022, the bank started the creation of a modern ecosystem of applications that would allow it to penetrate niches of the market with a high potential for banking, such as remittance recipients, SMEs, and the youth segment, thus fostering its efforts to expand financial inclusion to the population.
There has been an increase in users of mobile applications and online banking
Currently, 59 percent of the bank’s customers use ‘Popular App,’ a channel through which more than 45 million transactions were carried out last year, representing an increase of 33 percent compared to 2021.
Of the transactions carried out via Internet banking and the ‘Popular App’, 71 percent were conducted through the application. Overall, 86.9 percent of all Banco Popular’s transactions are carried out through digital channels. Its network of ATMs, which exceed 70 million transactions per year, is advancing in its modernisation with 70 new units, which allow commercial deposits, accept coins and a larger number of bills, and provide greater convenience and speed, especially for its business clients. For these clients, the bank also began the phased launch of a new ‘Popular Empresas App’, which will have a more up-to-date and intelligent approval and product management flow, more advanced functionality for digital check deposits, and more straightforward and intuitive interaction.
On the other hand, to continue promoting responsible control of their finances by the clients themselves, it launched the ‘+Control’ tool on its Internet banking site, which has been widely accepted. It allows users to set consumption limits on their credit cards by hours and days of use, location, types of commerce, and amounts of consumption, online or in-person transactions, among other benefits. Banco Popular completed a vital initiative to transform the commercial management model in its branches, aiming to optimise service and maximise the customer experience, boosting sales and freeing up the operational load.
Thanks to this project, waiting time in the branches was reduced by more than 50 percent, customer satisfaction increased by 60 points, and the productivity of business officers increased by 33 percent. Banco Popular had, at the end of 2022, more than 1.3 million digital customers.
A new way of banking
According to the Superintendence of Banks of the Dominican Republic, the adoption of new technologies has been reflected in the services offered by Financial Intermediation Entities, allowing access to products and services in a wholly digital way during 2022. This advance in digital services has caused branch use to drop from 41.5 percent in 2021 to 35 percent in 2022 in a variety of transactions in different banks. As for mobile applications, these not only strengthen the ties that banks have with their customers but also aid in selling products and services. With these advances already materialising across the banking sector, there has been an increase in users of mobile applications and online banking. The Financial Intermediation Entities have strengthened the rights of these users since more than 50 percent of those surveyed consider claims easy to file through those channels.
As part of its sustainable vision, last year, the bank expanded the coverage of energy consumption with renewable energy, contracting clean energy for the Torre Popular complex, in addition to the installed capacity of 22,300 solar panels in our branches across the country.
This covers an average of 80 percent of all the energy consumed in the 56 photovoltaic branches and all the buildings that make up the Torre Popular complex and contributes to reducing the emission of 9,258 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere each year.
As an organisation certified internationally as carbon neutral, in 2022, the National Council for Climate Change and Clean Development Mechanism (CNCCMDL) recognised the bank for maintaining carbon neutrality in its operations. This distinction was granted within the framework of Climate Week for Latin America and the Caribbean, which the Dominican Republic hosted in 2022.
The bank’s set of initiatives in favour of environmental sustainability ‘Hazte Eco’ also received international recognition: in Spain, by the Corresponsables Foundation, and in London, by the International Business Awards (IBA), which awarded it a Silver Stevie in the category of Corporate Social Responsibility Programme of the Year in Mexico, the Caribbean, Central, and South America.
This green finance portfolio was expanded in 2022 with three new products to promote sustainability in Dominican society: the ‘Extrahogar Eco’ and ‘ExtraEco’ revolving loans and the ‘HipotEco’ mortgage loan for the purchase of sustainable homes. In addition, as part of its commitments to environmental sustainability, last year, Banco Popular surpassed the milestone of planting more than one million trees in different areas of the country, thus advancing the realisation of a promise the bank had made for 2030.
Regarding financial education and inclusion, Banco Popular continues to expand the offer of digital and face-to-face courses from the ‘Finances with Purpose Academy,’ which has already trained more than 154,000 people. In addition, the ‘Subagente Popular’ network, the largest in the country, has allowed access for 550,000 users to carry out their financial operations, with more than 4.4 million transactions, in the 2,997 affiliated businesses.
For its SME clients, Banco Popular Dominicano created the SME Service Centre, which provides small business owners with detailed assistance, thus prioritising their financial needs. In the same sense of support for SMEs and entrepreneurship, more than 400 clients enrolled in the ‘Impulsa Popular’ online platform and used the tools provided to expand their business plans. At the same time, entrepreneurs took advantage of the benefits of the ‘Emprende Popular’ platform, with specific products, such as the ‘Emprendedores Naranja’ loan, designed for entrepreneurs in cultural and creative industries, which offers, in addition to financial facilities, entrepreneurship workshops for these types of businesses.
As a mechanism to promote the development of the productive sectors and project the country in international markets, our ‘Impulsa Forum’ and the export platform, ‘ProExporta,’ encouraged small, medium, and large-sized Dominican companies to consider export and enjoy the benefits of entering foreign trade. Its ‘Impulsa Popular’ web portal is a pioneering platform in the country, offering free tools to facilitate business management for entrepreneurs. It has over 3,200 articles and videos on finance, marketing, management, and sustainable leadership.
To elevate its digital leadership, the bank signed a strategic alliance with Microsoft to promote the digital transformation of small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) and young entrepreneurs. Through its SME Business Strengthening programme, 1,400 SME entrepreneurs have participated in training and educational opportunities with its allies: the Association of Industrialists of the Northern Region (AIREN), Barna Management School, and the Loyola Specialised Institute of Higher Studies. Additionally, through the ‘Impulsa Popular Franchise’ programme, 61 SMEs have become franchisees.
The bank continues to lead in the sector as the ‘Bank of Tourism,’ by strengthening its leadership regarding the total volume of loans granted to its hotel clients and the broad value chain that are part of this crucial activity to the Dominican development model. Banco Popular represents almost half of the tourism financing portfolio of all Dominican banks, exceeding $209m in 2022.
To elevate its digital leadership, the bank signed a strategic alliance with Microsoft
Banco Popular’s financial support for tourism is distributed among nearly 800 clients. In 2022, the bank participated again in the International Tourism Fair (FITUR) in Madrid, Spain, of which the Dominican Republic was a partner country that year. This reiterates the bank’s role in supporting tourism, one of the main driving forces for the country’s recovery after the global pandemic.
The bank continues its commitment to the sustainable development of Dominican tourism and the region. It arranged a strategic financing agreement with Grupo Piñero of up to $200m together with BID Invest for the development and growth of tourism in its hotels in the Dominican Republic and Jamaica. This agreement is set to revitalise tourism activity with a sustainable approach in its three aspects: economic, social and environmental, preserving and generating jobs, betting on local suppliers, and reducing the carbon footprint by 60 percent before 2030.
Together with the Ministry of Tourism, it launched the campaign ‘Tourism in every corner’ to promote integration and mobility within the national geography, to diversify Dominican tourism options and to facilitate the creation of new, sustainable projects that allow the inclusion of communities.
Within the framework of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, Banco Popular Dominicano held three virtual seminars aimed at companies, young people, and adults over 55 years of age, respectively, with educational content on cybersecurity, part of its permanent education initiative ‘Pistas de Seguridad’ (Security Tips).
In addition, its employees are certified annually in the best and most up-to-date cybersecurity practices. Similarly, the bank reinforces its clients’ cybersecurity thanks to the advanced Security Operations Centre (SOC), which complies with international best practices, intense monitoring, and investigation to curb threats to technological infrastructure. Furthermore, its Network Operations Centre (NOC) constantly monitors its platforms and channels, ensuring the systems’ stability every day of the year.