Winner: Banco Bisa
Bolivia’s Banco Bisa continued its solid run in this Andean country, reporting growth in 2020 despite the pandemic.
Banco Bisa is the leading institution in the corporate sector, a critical component given the dual political and health crises that hit the country in 2020. Bolivia’s economy shrank by 8.8% in 2020, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). It is forecast to expand 5.0% this year and 4.0% in 2022.
“Banco Bisa showed a capacity to react quickly to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 for both our clients and our personnel,” says Marco Asbun, executive vice president.
Corporate lending in the financial system in 2020 increased faster than lending in other sectors – consumption, housing, microenterprises, small businesses – up 8.4%. Closest was consumption, with a growth rate of 5% in 2020. The bank’s total assets increased by 13.0% in 2020 and Tier-1 capital was 9.25%, up slightly from the previous year. Deposits were up by 4.0% and total loans by 1%. Non-performing loans were 2.8% of total loans.
Banco Bisa’s performance and the innovation undertaken during the pandemic, especially in the area of digital transformation, won it the Bank of the Year award for Bolivia.
“Our principal bet is on innovation. Our customers are being provided with technological changes that are making services faster, easier and, above all, safer,” says Asbun. “Digitalization is going to continue, as we are constantly implementing new products.”
The bank doubled down on technology during the pandemic, strengthening the e-BISA+ and e-BISA mobile applications, and adding BISA Neo to provide easier access for customers and grow their base. The different products have allowed for 77% of all transactions to be done virtually.
In January 2021, it began integrating new tools to its artificial intelligence Chat Bot that was inaugurated four years ago. The Chat Bot, which uses Facebook and WhatsApp channels, responds to 50% of inquiries to the bank.
Asbun said these changes were part of the first phase of a digital platform would continue incorporating new products and services. “Innovation has become a daily challenge,” he says.
Technological changes are also allowing the bank to have a bigger footprint in this country of nearly 12 million people that has one of the lowest connectivity rates in the region. Bolivia ranked 68th out 79 countries in the 2020 Global Connectivity Index.
Banco Bisa had 69 branches and 342 ATMs across Bolivia in 2020. The Bolivia’s top five banks have less than 2,000 ATMs combined.
“Our vision centers on meeting the needs of our customers, especially with our client base in constant evolution. We are going to focus on corporate loans, which is our specialty, but we have not lost sight of options in other areas,” says Asbun.