Libra: The smell of tobacco was missing to feel me in a scene from Mad Men. It was like those big, luxurious offices from the sixties. Space was adorned by a blue painting with lilac reflections that was lost in a fuchsia geometric figure, by the well-known Peruvian painter Fernando de Szyszlo. He wore two watches of more than five thousand dollars on each wrist that fired him, officially and in front of the press. Dionisio Romero Seminario left his duties and his majestic office in La Molina that day and thus became the former president of the Romero Group.
Ten years ago we were there. Conversing and saying goodbye to the emblematic Piuran who was trained at Pomona College and Stanford. His respected career, coupled with an innate drive, led him, in addition to strong growth and corporate consolidation, to lay the foundations for a drastic cultural transformation that was needed and was already being discussed at that time. Of what would happen to the bank and the other businesses of the group in the following years.
This week I returned, from that time to that great BCP headquarters and after ten years. I witnessed an important transformation that Dionisio Romero Paoletti, the son, has had to develop. Today there is a new culture that has nothing to envy multinationals like Google or Facebook. Those that have been hitting the advertising market and that of traditional media … but not Journalism. And this is not the case of the Romero Group either. The difference does not only lie in the great economic capacity (not a minor issue), to have created a new work culture. It is clear that they drew up a long-term plan that they fulfilled or must be fully performing. I believe that all companies in our country need to have a clear and diffused goal internally in order to focus on the strategy and the different plans of each area.
THE YAPE CASE: A REFLECTION OF INNOVATION
For the manager of Yape of the BCP —this free bank application that allows you to send and receive money from your cell phone in a simple way—, Rufino Arribas, “success is based on resilience and fun”. He said that to get the first million users (which they reached recently), “we have had to try infinitely many times and there is no fixed recipe.” While listening to it, I confirm that this is how a startup works and Arribas is aware of it. You can see that he is obsessed with looking for a WOW experience with Yape and tries to prove it to me at all costs.
While we talk at one of the many tables with umbrellas, adjacent to his workspace, in an outdoor area with many green areas, he invites me to have a drink at a convenience store, also installed in that area. It seems a model establishment of the BCP or as Arribas dreams that the majority of the country’s businesses are. “Do you pay with Yape sir?” Asks the young lady who attends us, while the manager is proud of her product and shows me how Yape’s QR code payment service works. The one they seek to massify. The goal that they have set until the end of the year … yes, for the next six months, it is not easy. They must get the two and a half million ‘yaperos’ for this 2019. They have a million and a half until the end of the year.
I think the most important thing is actually to focus on active users who are currently around 310,000 per month. But for now, they seem more concerned with overcrowding and they already have the recipe for success. What they must do is replicate on a large scale the consumer ecosystem that they have created in said La Molina headquarters. After the interview, they gave me a tour in which I could appreciate that they no longer exist, or at least I couldn’t make out, those majestic management offices like the one where Dionisio Romero Seminario, Sr., fired in 2009. The framed photographic paintings have changed in gold leaf, for colorful lockers (in open spaces), some personal mechanical games or ‘pinballs’, and even an area with a lounge (yes, to sleep), laundry, shops and gym for employees.
There is the ideal world Yape. And that of its workers. They have incubated it. All your services can be paid with this application. I don’t think it was without realizing it, but they have inserted one of their flagship digital products (among ‘Arturito’, the purchase of the Culqi payment gateway, among others) in their new work culture. The one that breathes, feels and shows that it has favored the corporation. Of course, with greater intensity than those of the main headquarters. What’s more, I have several friends who stopped working at the BCP and who agree that they stopped using Yape because they only used it in La Molina. Be careful and attentive to the opportunity. You have to get out of the bubble and climb fast.
FACEBOOK CALIBRA IS NOT AMILANA
If I were in Rufino Arribas’s pants I would be afraid. Much. It’s good that he doesn’t show it, at least. Be careful, I don’t mean this year. This one is already played and he has the recipe in the incubator. I am talking about 2020. As you know, a few days ago the social giant, the ‘good blue friend’ (for some), Facebook … communicated the creation of its own financial system with ‘Libra’ , its new cryptocurrency powered by a new Blockchain endorsed by Visa, MasterCard, among 26 other members who support its birth and who has been the one that stole all the flashes of the news.
Actually, it should be of concern to the entire financial and banking system in general. “The good thing is that Yape is two years ahead of his local players. For me the competition is cash ”, Arribas tells me. From here, I recommend that you do not forget the phrase that he himself sentences: “everything can always be improved”. But this can also catapult him and his local competition. And those led by Mark Zuckerberg have always been clear about adapting and improving. Above all, they are the kings of scalable short-term testing. They know the recipe, but worldwide. And so they blow up everything they touch, their products. They get everyone to use, enjoy, and depend on them. Also, I think the big news is not Libra, but ‘Calibra’. Your new independent financial subsidiary, as well as your new digital wallet.
And as the ten years haunt this column and almost a decade after the birth of Bitcoin, Facebook will put Libra and Calibra into use from next year. Abracadabra will allow billions of users to carry out financial transactions online from your social network. It follows that it will also do so through its other assets.
Can you imagine being chatting on Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, or Instagram inbox, from anywhere in the world, and transferring your money through these platforms? Currently, we already do. Many of us have our accounts or cards linked to Netflix, Spotify, and more digital platforms or services. Why wouldn’t we do it with the ‘like’ specialists?
For lovers of reading on digital topics… we are raffling the new book by the renowned futurist Mike Walsh, “The Algorithmic Leader” (2019) on this fan page. All those interested in the reconversion of the leadership of companies, algorithms, and artificial intelligence will be able to enjoy it.
Sergio Sicheri works as Head of the Audience Nucleus of Grupo El Comercio, he is the general manager of Brand Wash & Solutions (consulting on brand image and digital solutions). He has a master’s degree in Marketing and Commercial Management from the EOI of Spain and the UPC graduate school. He has taught courses in digital marketing at the Universidad Mayor de Chile, the Universidad Científica del Sur and at ISIL.