CaixaBank has signed up IBM Services to help it develop its hybrid cloud, which the bank hopes will enable it to increase its capability to develop innovative, digital-first customer experiences.
The Spanish bank has positioned itself as a digital financial services provider, with more than 6.5 million digital clients.
IBM has been a strategic technology partner of CaixaBank since 2011, when the two companies jointly created a technology company, IT Now, which is 51% owned by IBM and 49% by the CaixaBank Group. IT Now has more than 300 employees and is exclusively dedicated to providing service to CaixaBank.
Researchers at the joint CaixaBank-IBM innovation centre have previously been exploring technologies for the future of financial services. The recent agreement expands the collaboration to include blockchain and quantum computing. Recently, CaixaBank developed a prototype of a machine-learning algorithm based on quantum computing to analyse customers based on credit risk.
IBM said the pair would seek to co-create new technologies for the banking industry, with a goal to help quickly process a large number of transactions in an open, secure and scalable environment while delivering improved customer experiences.
CaixaBank has also developed what is believed to be one of the first virtual banking assistants created in Europe. Built with IBM Watson, the artificial intelligence-based (AI-based) virtual assistant manages more than 1.5 million client conversations each month, handling a spectrum of tasks such as helping bank employees obtain relevant detailed information about new client offerings and quickly assisting mobile customers via chat with day-to-day queries. The bank added that using AI frees up employee time to focus on serving customers.
“Our company has renewed our relationship with IBM to allow us to continue innovating and transforming the way we interact with our customers,” said Gonzalo Gortázar, CaixaBank’s CEO. “By strengthening and expanding the collaboration with a company that is a global model in innovation for the finance industry, we will accelerate even further our digital capabilities to continue developing innovative projects and services.”
Through this latest extension of the agreement, the bank plans to deploy IBM Cloud Pak for Applications running on Red Hat OpenShift to manage workloads and applications across its overall cloud infrastructure.
According to IBM, Cloud Pak for Applications will enable CaixaBank to modernise and create applications with increased agility and security, while meeting compliance requirements within a hybrid cloud environment. It is an area IBM hopes to expand across the banking sector.
Juan Zufiria, senior vice-president of global technology services at IBM, said: “With this collaboration, we are laying the foundation to build a model, not just for CaixaBank and its millions of customers, but for the future of the industry. The open cloud environment will allow the bank to accelerate its innovation and offer a more agile way to bring new digital services to its customers with added flexibility and security.”