The Key is to Give Customers What they Want

Maria Cristina Arrastia, vice president of business of the Bancolombia group, is the first woman to reach such a high position in one of the large banking corporations in the country.

From this position, Arrastia is in charge of all relations with the entity’s clients, both natural persons and companies and corporations, services and new products.

How is the personal banking business going for the entity?

As of August 31, we reached 12 million customers, which means that one in 4 Colombians are customers of the bank.

This is between natural persons, SMEs, companies and corporations.

Among natural persons, there are about 10.6 million customers, not counting Nequi who has another million customers.

On average we link about 210,000 customers monthly.

Strategy to obtain these figures?

For 4 years we started developing a business model called ‘Bancolombia at hand’, aimed at the base of the pyramid, where most people open their first bank account and offer advantages such as not having a handling fee and be able to withdraw for free by all the bank’s ATMs.

This is widely used by people with low salaries, clients who send remittances from abroad, many of the subsidies that the government pays and populations of the country with low income. To this, we link about 70,000 customers monthly.

The rest of the clients, 140 or 150 thousand monthly make up different segments such as natural persons and small businesses.

Which find attractive things like the bank’s app, in which they find a value proposition that allows many things to be done from one place.

It has been strengthening with access to products such as buying the Soat, requesting a credit card, pre-approved credits to make life easier for customers.

How far do you want to go with the APP?

As far as the needs of our customers demand. We try to understand who you are, what you need and how you behave.

Every time people want to have the power and control of their accounts and that is what we give them.

What is the purpose of the QR code?

It is a solution that allows small businesses to be united as a tailor shop, hairdresser, street vendors, entrepreneurs with the end customer.

The service is free with the advantage of not having to handle cash for greater security.

From the application of the bank, Neque and ‘Bancolombia at hand’, the customer can pay at no cost.

It is attractive to both the business owner and the customer.

To use the QR you must have an account with us, but if you do not have it, open it, for example, with ‘Bancolombia at hand’ without any cost.

What is happening with the physical offices, are they closing them?

We are transforming the offices more from the digital world to the development of services.

The point is that as cash transactions have decreased in the offices.

It allows us to consolidate offices in more advisory formats.

Where people go for sales and after-sales services and less and less for transactional services.

But they also go only for advice and we are opening other formats that combine digital with customer advice and other services and facilities.

bank correspondents

We are reaching 15,000 in all departments, in 90% of the municipalities of Colombia and that is a very important solution.

Having offices in all the municipalities of the country would be very expensive for us for many reasons.

The correspondent is an alternative because it allows us to have a bank presence in places that we would not arrive otherwise.

In addition, from the perspective of the correspondent.

It is very good because the bank takes customers to the business, leverages sales and has a transaction income.

People have access to a bank in all parts of the country.

The medium-term goal with personal accounts?

We have about 10.6 million natural people and what we are looking for is to satisfy those customers with a growth of about 1.2 million customers every year.

As of December 31 of this year, the goal is to end with 200,000 customers who have the QR, because that helps those people to sell more and generate a history in the financial sector, to allow them access to credit.

Investments in digital reach?

We invest about 50 million dollars a year in the transformation of the business.

And the SME sector behaves?

One in two SMEs, 1.7 million of them, are with us.

The growth has not been so high this year but the portfolio does grow between 9 and 10%. This year we have an average of about 18,000 monthly.

Of those, about 600,000 are women who have disbursed about 3.2 billion pesos.

Due to the informality that limits access to credit, with analytical models, we proactively approve a quota of credit without the need for documents.

The pilot started with 26,000 clients and we have already disbursed 800,000 million pesos.

Is it true that women are more responsible for handling silver?

Yes, that looks. They are more organized, more conservative, less risky and better order cash flow. The woman has a better credit record.

We link more than 5,000 female shopkeepers and have access to microcredits to develop their businesses.

Are SMEs borrowing well?

Until about three years ago we came with high levels of indebtedness anticipating better economic dynamics, and as a result of the lower dynamics, some were in difficulties.

How did Colombia do with points?

It started last year with 13 million customers. A win-win for merchants and customers because they both get benefits.