Winner: Banco Pichincha
Ecuador’s banking system remained stable throughout the pandemic and, given the numbers reported by the regulator, should emerge stronger as the crisis subsides.
Deposits in the financial system as of September 2021 were $39.1 billion, up by a strong 12.8% from the same month a year ago. Total loans as of September were $32.1 billion, up by 11.9%.
“Ecuador’s banking sector showed that it was solid during the most complex months of the pandemic and throughout 2021. It maintained the confidence of more than 7 million clients and is the motor of economic reactivation,” says Marco Rodríguez, vice president of the Association of Private Banks of Ecuador (Asobanca).
The country’s largest bank, Banco Pichincha, solidified its leading position with a series programs and projects to help its customers and the Ecuadorian economy pull through the most challenging time in the country’s modern history. Its efforts won it the Bank of the Year award for Ecuador.
Banco Pichincha had $12.4 billion in total asserts end the end of June 2021, up 7.5% from a year earlier. Total loans were $7.4 billion and deposits $10 billion, up 2.7% and 8.6%, respectively, from the previous year.
The bank unveiled regular and digital channel products during the pandemic to help customers cope with the economic downturn in 2020, which the International Monetary Fund (IMF) described as the largest on record for the country, and which is lingering. GDP shrank by 7.8% last year. The IMF forecasts it to expand 2.75% this year and 3.5% in 2022.
“We created a simple program for customers to restructure debt that included the option to extend it three times,” the bank states.
Electronic channels boomed during the pandemic and are here to stay. Today, nearly 70% of transactions are through digital platforms. The bank launched the DeUna application with the objective of reducing the use of cash. It had 150,000 users making most of their payments with their smart phones as of June 2021.
According to Asobanca, total digital transactions in the Ecuadorian banking system increased by 32% in 2020 compared to 2019.
Banco Pichincha is also among the leaders in non-banking correspondent (NBC) sector, which makes it a leader in the region. Ecuador is currently fourth in Latin America in this sector, which allows shops, restaurants and other establishments to carry out services on behalf of a bank. Ecuador had 35,974 NBCs as of April 2021, around 200 per 100,000 people. Banco Pichincha’s NBC brand, Mi Vecino, had 7,403 points in April. Ecuador is behind neighbors Peru and Colombia, which are first and second in the region, respectively, and Brazil.
“Thanks to the expansion of the NBC throughout the country, customers are able to access financial services faster and near their homes,” says Rodríguez.