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Oct 1, 2019

With $48b in assets, Banco Popular is the largest financial institution in assets and deposits in Puerto Rico. In this podcast, you will hear from Moisés Pena Reyes, VP, Digital Banking for the bank. Moisés is responsible for driving and managing the ongoing evolution, innovation, and strategic direction of Banco Popular’s digital banking platforms by meticulously managing their customers’ journeys via mobile, online and ATM. Hear how his unique “digital-first” approach to their transformation journey has allowed the bank to have more active devices in use to engage with the bank, than actual customers.  


Banco Popular Website

Moises Pena Reyes LinkedIn Profile

Diebold Nixdorf Website



Amy Lombardo:                00:15                     Hello again, this is Amy Lombardo and I'm your host for this episode of COMMERCE NOW. We're coming hot off of the stage from our last keynote presentation at DN Intersect, where Moisés Pena Reyes, from Banco Popular, hope I said that right and did you justice, Moisés . He presented the bank's digital transformation strategy. And so I'm lucky enough to be able to pull him aside for a few minutes here, and be able to share with our podcast universe, your story. It was fantastic for the group that was here, but I couldn't let you get away without getting in my hot seat here to talk to me.

Moisés Peña:                     00:54                     Let's do this.

Amy Lombardo:                00:55                     Moisés is responsible for driving and managing the ongoing evolution, innovation, and strategic direction of Banco Popular's digital banking platforms. So that's enough from me and let's hear it directly from him. So, welcome Moisés .

Moisés Peña:                     01:10                     Thank you, thank you. I'm excited to be here sharing one of my passions with you.

Amy Lombardo:                01:15                   So what I learned is you have 17 years at the bank, and 2008 was really when you started on this digital journey. So talk to me a little bit about how you came to this realization and what were the factors that led you to realize that digital is really the place to be for the bank.

Moisés Peña:                     01:36                     Yes, I think that ... 2008 was the year that I arrived at the Internet strategy team, and our customers loved to online banking, and we measured that. And seeing how the volume of transactions were literally making a dent in their behavior and monitoring the tendencies and the new stuff that was coming out, for me was truly engaging to embark on that journey. In the beginning we were just a small group, that admires an alternate channel but we persisted and continue to challenge the way things were done. And day by day, we started to launch new services, transform experiences to the place that we are today, with over a hundred people actually looking out for the top strategy in the bank.

Amy Lombardo:                02:37                     And you said something that was interesting because you said channels, but really you don't want to think in channels, that word isn't even in your vocabulary. Right?

Moisés Peña:                     02:47                     Imagine that. Alternate channels, no, it's our experiences, our customers and their expectations are the ones that are going to choose where and when they want to do banking.

Amy Lombardo:                03:02                     Right, right. Because customers say, "I need a bank."

Moisés Peña:                     03:05                     Yeah.

Amy Lombardo:                03:05                     They don't care. They're not going to say, "I need to go digitally pay my bill." It's just the experience.

Moisés Peña:                     03:12                     Experience and context, it is all about the context of the journey that our customer is going to embark.

Amy Lombardo:                03:18                     Right.

Moisés Peña:                     03:18                     Yeah.

Amy Lombardo:                03:19                     Right. All right. Moisés , so you talked a little bit about the journey itself, but can you share some of the innovations that the bank actually deployed?

Moisés Peña:                     03:27                     Yes. We run on a custom core and everything that we want to build, we literally have to build it. So that's a great opportunity for us. We have been at the forefront of iterating our new services. For example, we were between the top five banks in the U.S. to launch Apple watch support. So is really through the different skill sets that we have and do an innovation with them. And in a couple of weeks, we had our mobile app tailor for the Apple watch. Balances, transfers, transactions, payments, and we were in the first five banks in do that.

Our cardless cash service, it has been truly revolutionary because of the way that we offer the service to the non-customer. So we did it also ourselves also with the help of our technology partner. And the beauty of it, is that our customers can send money to anyone, even if that person doesn't have a bank account. But we did it the way of making them interact with our app. So they will enroll in our app and get access to their cash but I can truly offer them new experiences via that app because they allow me to send them promotions and cross sell opportunities are beautiful.

Amy Lombardo:                04:48                     Right.

Moisés Peña:                     04:48                     Yeah.

Amy Lombardo:                04:49                     So you mentioned something interesting in terms of, okay, "We were one of the first banks to do this," but sometimes that can have the reverse effect because consumers aren't ready or they're not trained, they can't adopt the technology. So how receptive was your customer base to the different phases of this digital transformation?

Moisés Peña:                     05:10                     Yep. I live by the principle that our customers don't wake up in the morning saying, "I want to do banking today."

Amy Lombardo:                05:20                     Right.

Moisés Peña:                     05:20                     Right.

Amy Lombardo:                05:21                     Unless of course you win the lottery.

Moisés Peña:                     05:23                     Yeah. But we are competing not with other banks. We are competing with what their expectations are with the ecosystem of applications that they interact with day in, day out right? So in our case, digital adoption is robust. Over 90% of our customer base is enroll in digital banking. So our customers are great in that they are fast adopters, right? So we will try stuff, for example, the Apple watch example, it has a low usage and we learn from that. We did experiment, we [inaudible 00:06:00] the teams collaborated and we monitor their performance and the usage. And we saw that, "Hey, people will still wants to use their phone to do it not the Apple watch."

Amy Lombardo:                06:12                     I'm going to throw you a little bit of a curve ball here, is there anything that scares you about the pace of change?

Moisés Peña:                     06:21                     Oh yeah, totally. And because of that ... because we are not competing with other banks anymore and we are a big bank on ... honestly, I want to move faster. But obviously Google, Amazon, Apple had a lot of more resources than we [inaudible 00:06:42] and a huge customer base. So what scares me is that we don't move fast enough to be part of that journey for our customers and lose business because a bigger player did it fast than us. So yeah, we keep pounding the rock and iterating and listen to our customers. That important thing.

Amy Lombardo:                07:06                     So maybe the goal we'll have here is, you know, we hear all about the Amazon effect or you know, you say you Google something, Google became a verb and maybe we'll have the Banco Popular factor right? And people will think about it that way.

Moisés Peña:                     07:21                     Exactly.

Amy Lombardo:                07:21                     Yes. Okay. You mentioned Google and in your keynote presentation you said that you are embedding Google analytics into your ATM. I almost fell out of my chair because I have not heard a single banker ever say that. So how'd you come to that?

Moisés Peña:                     07:41                     We love to experiment. We do a lot of proof of concepts. We have our own ATM lab in our building and being a group that they're ... our lives has ... have been helping the bank transition that digital transformation. When we started to HTML the hell out of those ATM screens, my senior web developer and on the team is like, "Hmm. HTML, CSS let's embed that we [inaudible 00:08:11] go there and start tracking the journey, the different touch points and," ... and that's the beauty of making your teams collaborate and expanding their skill sets, right? Because the idea came out of the team that didn't have anything to do with the ATM.

Amy Lombardo:                08:30                     Right.

Moisés Peña:                     08:31                     And that's how it came to be and we implemented it, we tested it. We even have the dashboard seeing it now in ... in a couple of machines and for us that we believe in design and interaction design that help us to understand their conversion funnel at the ATM because it is a transaction and ... and understand the pain points, why a customer it's spending this amount of time in this screen versus the other one and how can I enhance that pain point.

Amy Lombardo:                09:04                     Yep. So Moisés , you're ... sounds like you're bringing things faster to your team than they can possibly handle your wacky ideas. So how do you keep those folks motivated?

Moisés Peña:                     09:16                     They are part of what we are doing. I approach this in a very open way. I have conversations with them day in, day out. But the important thing is that you have to empower them to actually ... once you share the vision, I don't want to be the one that made that ... that vision a reality because it is impossible for one person to do that. So once I have those crazy ideas, I run the ideas by them and I empower them to make decisions and let them experiment and make suggestions. And that's how it ... it's truly a better conversation. And for example, for this keynote, I run the presentation with them two times.

Amy Lombardo:                10:01                     Oh, that's great.

Moisés Peña:                     10:02                     And I let them critique me and give me pointers and made changes to the slides. So it is not Moisés' presentation is my team's presentation, right? Because it is not only my vision, we are in this together. That's the model that we use every day, day in, day out. We are in this together.

Amy Lombardo:                10:21                     If we talk a lot about the intersection of physical and digital, I mean we're here at our newest flagship event, it's called 'Intersect'. But I think I had this aha moment when you were talking because I was thinking, it's really not the intersection of physical and digital, but it's also this third leg of the stool. It's that human element, right?

Moisés Peña:                     10:47                     Yep. It's ... I truly believe that this is not a technology problem. It is a human one. And once you break the silos and you empower your teams and help them get new skills, right. And encouraged them to, "I want you to collaborate with my interaction design," and run by him the idea that you have for that service, and that's when it truly became a richer product in the end is your teams the ones that make or break the customer experience.

Amy Lombardo:                11:25                     Yep.

Moisés Peña:                     11:26                     Yep.

Amy Lombardo:                11:27                     Okay. So last question. Can you give us any hints at ... at what's next?

Moisés Peña:                     11:32                     Hmm?

Amy Lombardo:                11:33                     For the bank?

Moisés Peña:                     11:34                     Well we are ... I think that for me a huge realization was that for the first time all these teams are in the same building. Digital retail, cyber fraud and technology operations, we are on there going our transformation of ... on how we collaborate. So for me, next things is that it's super exciting to see how the ATM structure now is going to reflect the reality that when we merge all these wonderful people and visions, the ... the point of view of what we do explodes service wise. I am super excited on what we are doing with taking our mobile experience and adapting it to the ATM. So my customer would see the same payment flow that he sees in the mobile app. He will see the same flow adapted to a tablet in the ATM. So that truly motivates me and we are doing some interesting stuff with the analytics. Also, we are doing predictive models for cash replenishment also in house with machine learning.

Amy Lombardo:                12:51                     Okay, okay.

Moisés Peña:                     12:52                     I always says that machine learning, artificial intelligence and cash recyclers, you have the opportunity to have a self sustaining cash replenishment operation. And we're doing interesting stuff with personalization and new services for our commercial customers. Yeah, I love what I do.

Amy Lombardo:                13:09                     You do.

Moisés Peña:                     13:09                     Interesting times.

Amy Lombardo:                13:10                     That passion is recognized. And I thank you for sharing-

Moisés Peña:                     13:15                     Thank you.

Amy Lombardo:                13:15                     This story with our listeners. So for those of you out there, keep checking back for more episodes from COMMERCE NOW and of course you can always subscribe on iTunes or your favorite podcast listening channel.