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Delegates from the 26 ESBG Members gathered in the city of Barcelona at the kind invitation of La Caixa to hold its statutory meetings and discuss policy and finance issues of high importance to the savings and retail banking sector.
The meetings kicked off with a welcome dinner which included a keynote speech by the Spanish Minister of the Economy and Competitiveness Mr Luis de Guindos. The Minister explained the advantages of the Banking Union, while highlighting the essential role of retail banking in facilitating access to finance which is essential for bringing back and boosting Europe's economic growth. "You have not been the problem and trigger of the crisis, yet you will be part of the solution", Mr Luis de Guindos said.
Statutory meetings held in Barcelona included the 41st ESBG President's Committee, 20th Board of Directors and 10th General Assembly. The meetings allowed WSBI members to set the work plan for the upcoming year, discuss important policy files and reflect upon upcoming high-level advocacy consultations of ESBG with political stakeholders. This exchange fostered a highly interactive debate between the various ESBG members from across Europe on how financial regulations are implemented at national and global stage.
This knowledge sharing was continued with a presentation by Mr Mendez, General Manager Cecabank, who gave an overview of the current state of the Spanish economy and presented insights into the process of restructuring and consolidation of the savings and retail banks in Spain.Mr Massanell, General Manager responsible for Resources at La Caixa and Chairman of Cecabank, further shared La Caixa's new approach regarding innovation in digital banking. He explained how the bank uses technology to capture information of its employees, of customers and of global innovation centres to gain innovation ideas from both internal and external sources.
La Caixa has become the main retailer in Spain, the second largest Spanish ATM network, as well as a European leader in online banking and mobile banking by using digitalisation and innovation to create new products and services. La Caixa has as a consequence been awarded the recognition of "The most Innovative Bank in the World" in 2011 and 2013 by the Bank Administration Institute and Finacle from the US. Euromoney, for its own part, has recognised La Caixa as the Best Bank for Technology Innovation in 2012 and 2013. Holding the ESBG statutory meetings in Barcelona has thus provided ESBG members with valuable input and new ideas for their own institutions.