Year: 2020

Winner: Banco de Bogotá

Banco de Bogotá continues strong at 150 years

Colombia’s Banco de Bogotá had big plans for 2020. The oldest bank in the country, it was looking forward to commemorating 150 years of continued service with a long list of anniversary activities.

Those plans, like everything else for the bank and Colombia as whole, were scrapped when the pandemic hit the country in March and Banco de Bogotá went into crisis mode.

Alejandro Figueroa Jaramillo, president and chief executive office, said the anniversary celebrations planned were going to showcase the bank’s path to the future. This still happened, but it came instead through its response to the pandemic, helping it earn the Bank of the Year award for Colombia.

“This crisis was totally unexpected, and our people have reacted in an extraordinary way,” he said. “They demonstrated the bank’s capacity to adapt to any situation.”

The bank stepped up during the crisis in a number of ways, including taking the lead in the government’s National Guarantee Fund and helping client companies meet payroll obligations. Banco de Bogotá accounted for more than half of the disbursements under the program.

“This is very important. We have made 58 percent of the loans in this program, which has been a titanic job for our bank,” said Figueroa Jaramillo.

Banco de Bogotá has been making digital strides for years and the pandemic contributed to meeting goals ahead of time and launching new products that broadened its already strong social footprint.

“The technical capacity we had before the pandemic let us respond quickly with the measures required to ensure the wellbeing of our personnel and guarantee uninterrupted customer service.

Since the crisis began, three out of every four new credit cards is digital, as are two out of three consumer loans and four out of every five mortgages. Overall, the number of digital users went up 24 percent in the 12 months ending in June 2019.

Banco de Bogotá also became the first financial institution in the world to partner with the U.N. program for children (UNICEF) to launch a digital, fee-less credit card to help finance social programs in the country. Cardholders can earmark the equivalent 1 percent of their purchases for the program, and the bank will match it.

“The card helps Colombian children by contributing to health, education and nutrition,” said Figueroa Jaramillo.

While undergoing upheaval, the bank maintained its leading role in return on equity in the Colombian banking system and saw total assets increase by 33.4 percent. Deposits were up by 38.3 percent and loans up by 29 percent.

“We are a bank moving toward two centuries of existence, but are leading in digital and innovation strategies in the financial industry,” said Figueroa Jaramillo.