BANKs OF THE YEAR awards
Bolivia’s Banco BISA manages through multiple crises
Bolivia’s Banco BISA was better prepared than most financial institutions when the COVID-19 crisis hit the country.
Its managers did not know a pandemic was coming, but they did have an inkling that the country’s general election in October 2019 would be tense and planned early, adopting contingency plans while also increasing liquidity position.
The elections were not only messy, but led to the resignation of the president and an interim government that would last 12 months. The pandemic hit in the middle of the turbulence, wreaking havoc as the country closed down and economic activity came to a stop.
Banco BISA was prepared and its actions have earned it a repeat performance as LatinFinance’s Bank of the Year for Bolivia.
“The measures and provisions were adopted prior to the pandemic allowed us to maintain our levels of liquidity. This helped us keep the trust of our customers. They believe in us,” said Executive Vice President Marco Asbun.
The bank not only remained liquid, but saw an increase in loans and deposits. Non-performing loans increased by just 0.5 points, far better than the rest of the market.
Banco BISA “has been able to ride out successfully the main political and economic events we have had in Bolivia,” said Asbun.
The pandemic also provided the bank with more room to expand its digital platforms, a key component that has earned it local and international recognition in the past.
The bank’s online platforms, e-BISA and e-BISA Móvil, already meant that 77 percent of the transactions did not require customers to show up at a branch. This increased to 95 percent during pandemic.
“There was a push for digital channels. Anyone can now open an account in Banco BISA through one of our digital platforms. This is one of the products that saw the highest level of acceptance during the pandemic,” said Asbun.
The bank also continued to expand is social green footprint, installing more solar panels to its buildings around the country. The project began in 2019 at its headquarters in La Paz, the principal city, and this year spread to Cochabamba and Santa Cruz in the east. Banco BISA now has installed capacity to generate 254 megawatt hours a year, the equivalent of power consumed by 240 households.
Banco BISA is Bolivia’s first “carbon neutral” bank.