Ricardo Cuesta Delgado, Produbanco CEO, talks about how the bank is protecting Ecuador’s Amazonian populations during the pandemic and extending its digital services to benefit all of its customers.
Global Finance: What inspired Produbanco to come to the aid of the country’s indigenous people during the pandemic?
Ricardo Cuesta Delgado: The financial system is a critical catalyst to foster real change regarding global challenges like improving people’s prosperity, fighting inequalities, tackling climate change and protecting our biodiversity. Given the need to take urgent action toward these challenges, it was our obligation as a leading bank in sustainable finance in Ecuador to join the Por Todos initiative.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Por Todos was born as a private sector emergency fund directed to mitigate the impact of this crisis through effective and timely solutions, especially to help those most in need. The resources collected were destined to several areas: nutrition and basic staple needs for the most vulnerable, protection of health workers and their families, tests and equipment for detection of the virus, and respiratory-assistance equipment.
Produbanco joined this initiative due to its extensive network and the important services it provides to the most vulnerable, such as is the case with the Amazonian communities.
In a special effort that far exceeds the value of economic investments, such as the protection of our cultural heritage against the threat of the pandemic, Por Todos implemented initiatives to protect Amazonian communities—the last cornerstones of our country’s deepest identity. Aware that a massive contagion in these groups could be detrimental to the survival of these ancestral cultures, the Por Todos fund cooperated with USFQ, a local university, and Fundación Raiz to create a project for immunological control and education, testing and enough food provisions to sustain isolation, with strict respect for their cultural practice and ways of life.
GF: How has the bank’s financial technology adapted to increased demand?
Cuesta Delgado: Within our strategic plan, we directed our priorities toward our digital transformation efforts. In this regard, prior to the pandemic, Produbanco already had a very wide online product and services offering, which allowed it to digitally accompany its clients in the majority of their financial needs during the difficult year.
Although there was a large increase in digital channel transactions, our clients already used these in order to carry out their transactions, which is the result of the digital strategy the bank has been implementing since a few years back in order to improve the internal and external customer experience, and thus accelerated the adoption and performance of these digital channels.
Produbanco’s Mobile App has experienced very significant growth from January to October 2020, with approximately 94% of transactions performed using this channel, while via the web growth is approximately 37%.
Finally, for us, leveraging service channels has been and continues to be a primary objective—to adapt ourselves to the needs and expectations of our clients in their daily lives.
GF: What are your goals as a new board member of the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative, representing South America?
Cuesta Delgado: I am very thankful for all the UNEP-FI South American banks that voted for me; it is an honor and important responsibility. My motivation as a member of the UNEP-FI Banking Board is my strong belief that it is possible to build a better world through sustainability.
Sustainability is not only a good practice, it is absolutely necessary; everyone’s future depends on forceful collective action, specifically on the role of financial institutions and the promotion of sustainability practices across its entire value chain.
We are committed to supporting the implementation of the Principles of Responsible Banking in our region. Through these principles, we can be the catalyst for change in other industries as we intermediate with all of them and consolidate the demands of our stakeholders and demonstrate change—not only in our banking practices through our actions, but also with best practices and real impacts on the economy, society and climate change. It is important to align our business strategy and to demonstrate real change, achieve results, fulfill commitments and accelerate positive impact.