How EVO Banco combines fintech innovation with good banking management

"I've always said we are not a bank… we are a BankTech," says Executive Customer Lab Director Carlos Oliveira

July 16, 2019

Carlos Oliveira is the Executive Customer Lab Director at EVO Banco – one of the key challenger banks disrupting Spain’s banking industry. In May 2018, EVO Banco made headlines by launching the first Spanish language banking voice assistant; one year into the project, Carlos tells World Finance how the EVO Assistant was received, what the bank has learned about its customers and their priorities, and EVO Banco’s position as a disruptive force among Spain’s large legacy banks.

World Finance: So first Carlos – one year into the project, how has the EVO Assistant been received, and what have you learned?

Carlos Oliveira: Well, we received it with very great engagement by customers, because at the end if you analyse, almost in one month 10 percent of the customers are using it – and also they spend around two minutes using it. So for us it’s a very surprising number, because, you know to spend two minutes talking to a machine, it’s not so easy.

It’s around 70 percent of the customers are using it now, and they do basic things like transfers of money, or review the amount of money that they have in their accounts; to more sophisticated things. Also they ask the assistant, ‘Tell me, what is the right thing to do to invest my money?’ and these kinds of things.

What we learn is that the people love it. Because at the end, it’s natural language: it’s what normal people do, it’s talking. So if finally you find someone or something that is understanding you and answering your questions, you are taken in the right key.

World Finance: How far has the rest of the Spanish banking industry come in the digitisation journey that we’re seeing all over?

Carlos Oliveira: Well I think that we have to divide in two big groups. One of those are the legacy banks, you know, the traditional banks. To be honest they are doing great effort to change their reality. But also there’s a lot of legacy to change, no? So at the end they are really really investing harder, but I think they are not so agile, in terms of changing the arena.

So, I think that we are in a pretty advantageous position, these banks like EVO. Because innovation, it’s more a question of attitude. Of how you’re going to put the customer in the centre of everything that you do as a bank. And I think in EVO, we really have a vision of being useful for the customers. For us it’s an obsession. We don’t do innovative things just to be fancy, okay? We need to do things that make sense for the customers, and that are making their life easier. Okay? Our obsession is to be easy for them, and to create something that makes sense.

World Finance: So, how are you making sure that the innovations you’re creating are useful to your customers?

Carlos Oliveira: Well first of all, the ideas and also the priorities are not defined by me – they’re defined by customers.

So we have a lot of data, you know? At the bank we have a lot of information of the customer, we have all the transactions of the customers. So we try to analyse with the big data department, what are the real insights, what are the real trends that we have with our customers? Then we develop some products, we test them with our beta testers: a thousand customers are using our products one month in advance. So, they are analysing how it’s working, how it’s not working; and see if it’s performing or not.

I’ve always said that we are not a bank: we’ve said that we are a BankTech. A bank traditionally, they have… they know how to manage a P&L, they know how to manage customers. But they’re not really good on user experience and these kinds of technologies – these kinds of things.

On the other hand you have the fintechs. They’re really good in some aspects of user experience, but on the other hand they don’t know how to manage P&Ls. We’re in between. We’re like a start-up bank that combines the two things. And I think that this is the secret of our success.

World Finance: Finally, what is next for EVO Banco? What are the opportunities you see in your future?

Carlos Oliveira: Well there is a lot of opportunities. The secret is to choose the right ones. It’s not so easy; with the big data and the insight… to choose the right insight is the critical thing.

We are stimulating our brains with ideas from other industries. I mean, we want to be useful for you. We want to go beyond the traditional banking system, and the traditional banking products. To touch with you in your life on a very day-to-day basis. So we really want to be on the first screen of your phone. We don’t want to be a normal bank. We don’t want to do the typical things that the banks do. We want to be someone who understands you, someone who really adds value to you, on a real basis. This is exactly what we really want to do.

World Finance: Carlos, thank you very much.

Carlos Oliveira: You’re welcome.