Year: 2021

Winner: Lafise Bancentro

Sound data analysis has always been essential for banks, and even more so during the ramped-up digitalization process provoked by the pandemic.

Nicaragua’s Banco Lafise Bancentro, the country’s most profitable bank, implemented a data lake as part of its digital transformation to improve the way it stores customer information. Data storage and quick retrieval within the structure, which also includes a new data quality assurance toolkit to assess information, has made service faster and more transparent.

Lafise’s focus on digital technologies and its continued strength in the local market won it the Bank of the Year award for Nicaragua.

“Our innovation, transformation and adaptability have been constant. This has allowed us to be well-placed in this new context, offering the right services and products to our customers,” says Lafise Bancentro President Roberto Zamora.

Lafise earned a net profit of $24 million in 2020, the best in the Nicaraguan financial system. The bank’s assets reached $1.77 billion, an increase of 2.7% over 2019. Deposits were up a strong 16.3% in 2020, compared to the previous year. The increase in deposits at Lafise accounted for slightly more than one-quarter of the increase in the financial system.

At the same time, Lafise saw a 17.7% contraction in loans, as the pandemic limited activity in the country. In 2020, the bank had the best ROE in the system, 8.2%, and the highest liquidity/deposit ratio, 91.6%.

While the health crisis affected Nicaragua like all countries around the world, it registered the lowest number of deaths, 207, in Central America during the first 16 months of the pandemic.

The country’s economy contracted by 4% in 2020, while Central America as a region contracted by 6.5%, according to the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. The rebound this year will be less than 2%, while the region will grow closer to 4%.

The bank’s technological choices have allowed it to improve quality and attention by personalizing communication. It has also kept the bank at the front of the market.

“Digital transformation is a fundamental pillar of our business strategy, ensuring that we will remain the top bank,” says Zamora.

Its digital onboarding is evident in all segments. Lafise saw 47% increase accounts opened through digital channels in the first half of 2021 compared to the same period a year earlier. The bank has also been adding new companies to its digital payment channel, with 52% of payroll disbursements are now digital. At the end of 2020, 75% of customers had used at least one online service. That number was at 82% in May 2021.

The increases are the result many changes, including the use of biometric identification technology that reduces to a matter of minutes the time need for a new customer to enroll in one of the bank’s services.

“Improvements in our digital processes have not only allowed us to transform the way we do business, but meet the new context of environmental, social and corporate governance successfully,” says Zamora.

“Improvements in our digital processes have not only allowed us to transform the way we do business, but meet the new context of environmental, social and corporate governance successfully”  Roberto Zamora, Lafise Bancentro