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EXCLUSIVE—  BBVA is looking to create a platform ecosystem as it continues to grow its relationships with startups and fintechs, Jose Fernandez da Ponte, head of global business development and new ventures, Digital, told Bank Innovation.

“We are very curious about the way banks can be used as platforms,” Fernandez da Ponte told Bank Innovation, citing the wave of interest in API usage and open that has been stirring in countries like the United Kingdom. “We will see lots of innovation [in open ]; we will see it expand.”

BBVA’s interest in platforms is representative of a larger trend in financial services, where banks and other FIs are looking to establish digital spaces with more transparency and third-party services—most often via startup marketplaces (which BBVA has).

BBVA is also tackling this through its “Entrepreneur in Residence” program, where the bank will help to develop a startup’s platform and model before setting up that startup as an independent partner.

The bank has launched three such startups in the past year, including Azlo, a small business bank account startup, Covault, which covers digital identity, and challenger bank Denizen.

BBVA’s innovation center — which includes its “Disruption” group, headed by Fernandez da Ponte for the past three years, focused on acquiring and/or investing in fintechs —is located in San Francisco, in the heart of tech country.

As stated, BVVA’s current innovation interests tie in closely with the idea of banking as a platform service.

“On the functional side we’re quite interested in machine learning, as well as open banking,” Fernandez da Ponte told Bank Innovation. “With machine learning, there are definitely a lot of [consumer] use cases…but I think the back office [uses] will be deployed slightly earlier.”

The bank is currently working with three new candidates for its “Entrepreneur in Residence” program, Fernandez da Ponte told Bank Innovation, though he could not share details on what areas of fintech these entrepreneurs are working on, or how far along their platforms are.

The program works in tandem with BBVA’s interests for the year (Azlo’s business accounts are currently supported by the bank, for instance), which are “revised periodically” throughout the year, Fernandez da Ponte said.

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