Winner: Scotiabank Chile
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit Chile in early 2020, Scotiabank was concluding the
integration of the IT legacy systems from the local unit of BBVA, which it had acquired back in
The team responsible for the job had no time to rest. As the world moved quickly to digitalize
during pandemic-instigated lockdowns, Scotiabank’s team was immediately tasked with
accelerating the digital transformation of the merged company.
“The pandemic poured fuel on the fire of digitalization,” says Diego Masola, CEO of
Scotiabank Chile, which has won the award for Digital Transformation of the Year. “The
number of digital clients doubled, and, as a result, we have made twice as much investment in
digitalization as we had originally planned.”
With restrictions on movement in place and government-imposed lockdowns making it harder
for businesses to operate, Chileans embraced online banking in their private and professional
lives as never before. Before the pandemic, according to Masola, some 30% to 40% of
Scotiabank’s client-base were digital clients. That number is now over 65%.
Scotiabank’s current digitalization drive started back in 2016, but the launching of new
products and services gained fresh momentum and urgency since early 2020. By then, the bank
already offered several services via a banking app and, mostly, via a home banking portal. Now
both systems are being merged so that clients will be able to perform a range of operations via
“Between six or eight months from now, our home banking and our banking app will be
basically the same,” Masola says.
In the first six months of 2021, 70 improvements and new functionalities were added to the
app, reflecting the urgency given to the task.
The digital channels had to be adapted to provide new services that the pandemic made vital
for clients. For instance, Scotiabank started to offer digital loans to SMEs and to restructure
personal loans to clients who struggled with the economic and humanitarian crisis.
Services like leasing and factoring, which relied heavily on manual and paper-based labor, now
can be fully performed via digital channels. SMEs, one of the companies’ focus, have been
targeted by tools that make it easier for them to manage tasks such as the payment of workers
and providers and the transfer of money. Twelve digital branches were created, under the
brand ScotiaConnect to offer the same services of a physical branch but completely online.
By the end of 2020, 59% of retail banking sales were carried out via digital channels; six
months later, the ratio was 68%.
A new payment ecosystem, called Scotiapay, was launched in July, and the goal is to bring all
kinds of digital payment options and functionalities under its umbrella. And new digitally
boosted novelties are in the pipeline, including AI-driven chatbots, the automation of a
growing number of middle and back office functions and the launching of a private banking
unit that will rely significantly on digital tools.
In Masola’s view, the digitalization drive must go on as: even after the pandemic abates, clients
are unlikely to want to relinquish the ease of online banking.
“We believe very much in our capacity to adapt ourselves to change. The pandemic has shown
that triumph does not go to the strongest or the most intelligent, but to the one who is best at
adapting,” he says. “Every problem and every solution must be tackled with a ‘digital first’