BBVA interactive dossiers | ABIL, a new self-service experience



Another way of doing things

¿Disruptive innovation?

Innovation involves constant improvement of the products in relation to their previous versions. Beyond that, disruptive innovation changes the patterns of the industry, business or ways of thinking, offering a fresh perspective. Frank Moss, former director of the Media Lab at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), ensures that "the history of disruptive innovation shows that great ideas don't come from making safe bets. They are never the result of incremental reasoning. In reality they come from thinking about things in a way that no one before has." Disruptive innovation does not come about through spontaneous generation. In order for the idea that changes everything to be produced, outlined and carried out a conjunction and blend of aptitudes, competencies and environments, which act to catalyze progress, are necessary.

"At BBVA Innovation we're convinced that the combined knowledge offered by an assortment of minds is always more rich and valuable than the ideas of just one person," points out Gustavo Vinacua, Director of the BBVA Innovation Center.

Disruptive innovation is brought about when different people with a variety of trajectories, abilities, visions and methodologies come together to share their ideas, combining and enriching them, and extracting all their worth.
In order to do this, the innovative process requires a gathering of thinkers and brilliant teams from disparate disciplines to figure out how to change things: concept creators, designers, ergonomic experts, engineers, and those who study the predictable and ineffable elements of human behavior…

Thus, speaking about innovation and the agents who bring it about implies crossing the traditional disciplinary borders and involves a break with the conventional idea about the type of minds that should be put to the task of solving a particular problem.

The molecular biologist Linus Pauling, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1954 for his dedication to describing the nature of chemical bonds, once stated, "the best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas."

So from any trends forum and management style analysis it is agreed upon that creativity prevails as the differentiating element in leadership. Not a stale creativity limited to the traditional environment of R&D applicable to new products and services, but an approach that is transversal and infinitely wide-reaching to permeate management methods, the relationship between human capital, compensation policies and experiences of consumption and the exchange of information.
"Nowadays engineers, programmers and scientists are capable of creating almost everything. The question has shifted from the R&D oriented 'What can we do?' to the client centered 'What should we do?'" illustrates Pascal Soboll, director of studies at the Munich offices of IDEO, a Design Thinking company.

Along these lines Soboll assures that the innovative initiative alone is only as good as the question that you propose to answer.

BBVA's wish is to invest in the seeding of new ideas and to discover the questions that should be formulated in a horizon with no limits, just possibilities. The BBVA Innovation Center is a hotbed where all proposals and commitments to the future of the entity are germinated and can grow in order to add value to their clients and to society as a whole.

The fruit of four years of research, multidisciplinary teamwork, market observation and the desire to accompany clients in a relationship that never stops redefining itself, BBVA Innovation presents ABIL, a device for which the term ATM is perhaps constrictive. Self-service Banking Device? Information and Transaction Terminal? Users will find their own way of naming it.

From BBVA Innovation we say, come in, see and enjoy a new experience of self-service that is simpler, more human and more flexible. Welcome to ABIL

"BBVA, we work for a better future for people"

40 years is everything


""Starting the 2nd of September, 1969 our doors will open at 9:00 am…and they will never close again!" With this announcement, The Chemical Bank captured the public's attention in communicating the installation of what may have been the world's first ATM. May have been because there is disagreement as to the true authorship of the device.

The Chemical Bank's system was created by Don Wetzel, a gentleman from Texas. Tired of lining up at his bank and losing his lunch hour to take out cash, he thought that the tasks of a human teller (cashing checks, taking deposits, giving balances and performing transfers between accounts) could be automated. Thanks to the trust of Docutel, the company that he worked for and that offered him an "advance" of four million dollars, Wetzel built the first system capable of substituting human tellers through use of a magnetic card containing each client's information and a machine that delivered money and kept a record of transactions.

The Smithsonian Foundation recognizes Wetzel and Docutel as the inventors of the ATM (Automated Teller Machine), or at least as the first patent holders for one.
At this point Luther George Simjian appears to take his place as a pioneer. This Armenian who immigrated to the United States already had two-dozen patents registered for an ATM prototype by 1939. He offered his invention to the New York based Citicorp, who tried it for a period only to later dismiss it: it was only used by those who didn't want to be seen by bank employees, endowing ATM use with a feeling of being for "ruffians"— read: prostitutes and gamblers.

This type of machine existed in Tokyo in the 1960s, but little more is known about it.

We direct ourselves to another world financial center from where we also have news of automated banking: London, 1967, Barclays. These are the coordinates of the creation of John Shepard-Barron, a Scottish employee of De La Rue who was in the habit of taking out cash on Saturday mornings for his weekly expenses.

The importance of cocoa in the finacial industry

One day in 1965, Shepard-Barron arrived one minute late to the bank and began turning over the idea of obtaining money without needing to have a human operator, just like he could get the chocolate bar that he had been eating from a vending machine. Gravitational physics has Newton's apple and self-service banking its cocoa.

Two years later Barclays successfully took on Shepard-Barron's initiative. The card with a magnetic strip didn't exist yet and in its place the user introduced a check with mildly radioactive material, punched in a four-digit PIN and the ATM would give them ten pounds.

By 1971, ATMs could check balances and take deposits as well as withdrawals, and in 1974 the first ATM began to work in a branch of a Spanish bank. It was in Toledo, at Banco Popular, and by then the radioactive checks were no longer necessary: the plastic card began to take its predominant role.

It was also in 1974 that the first ATMs connected to a network began to work. Until then the service was only available for preferred clients because, since the machines were not connected and could only give a fixed quantity of money, the bank needed prior assurance that the client had enough funds to cover the transaction.

Almost two million

After 40 years of commercial history, the ATM has barely evolved apart from some technical improvements. Today there are more than 1.7 million ATMs in the world. The Japanese are especially fond of this method of taking out money. In 2007, the country of Japan had 14,000 machines for every million inhabitants, bringing the total number of machines in the country to 58,600.
The average ATM performs approximately 300 transactions a day, which go from the classic withdrawal to recharging prepaid mobile phone balances, updating bank books, providing balance and transaction information, taking deposits and there's even the possibility of doing transfers. As for the average withdrawal, it's about 100 euros.

This is the context for the arrival of ABIL, a disruptive innovation built on reinventing the experience of the user in order to make its way to those who do not use ATMs and to broaden its use for those clients with a more sophisticated profile. Take for example: Why are 83% of deposits made with the teller when ATMs have had that option incorporated for years? Could it be due to the fact that the man-machine relationship existent until now and established through an archaic interface refers to a static and unchanging universe?.

With ABIL, this and much more has changed forever.
ATM prototype

Co-creation as a model


The origin and evolution of the project

With 150 years of history, BBVA knows something about banking and about what people like and don't like in their interactions with an organization that they trust.

When, additionally, they have it clear that innovation and creativity breathe life into the organizations of the future, it is necessary to put to work all this capital of tradition, values and knowledge together with the capabilities of the best experts in each field of reference.

BBVA Innovation identified that, in spite of the ATM being a key piece in the relationship between bank and client, its appearance and functionality have experienced barely any changes in 40 long years.

"If something works, don't change it," all right, but to the point of ignoring the revolution of the interfaces of man- machine communication? Why settle for an underutilization of ATMs if behind that screen there are so many more possibilities to make the self-service experience easier and richer?

BBVA understands innovation as a state of mind and that's because they are conscious that there isn't just one "correct" way of doing things, and that nobody knows enough to be in possession of the perfect plan. If they wanted to revolutionize self-service banking through a new kind of terminal, today brought to fruition with ABIL, they needed the best from every field.
The experimentation had to be coherent with the values of the company and for that reason they chose a project leader from within BBVA Innovation to act as a reference and guide during each phase of the process, but always with co-creation as the preeminent value.

Julio Pérez Piña is the leader of the ABIL project in the Innovation-Lab at BBVA Innovation, and during four years he has orchestrated the processes with the idea that "providing space for ideas to grow and come into being in a specific product, understanding that you always work better and get better results when you combine the creative potential of multiple experts."

In order to create and develop ABIL, BBVA Innovation added to their own experience with that of: IDEO, global design and innovation consultancy – concept and design creator –, NCR – as manufacturing engineer – and Fujitsu – interface developer for man-machine communication. Intel, Microsoft and DNX also provided their technology and knowledge.

Conceptual phase: IDEO

The focus of IDEO is known as "design thinking" and it involved applying a process of people-centered design to any type of project. While until now it has only been valued by creative or artistic professions, design thinking is taught today in business schools as a response to complex strategic challenges in a variety of sectors.

Change through design As Pascal Soboll, director of IDEO in Munich, where ABIL was created, explains, "design thinking starts with an observation of what is real. It is rooted in human behavior and needs. It allows for basing decisions on reality instead of theory or assumptions. In the course of the project the perceptions establish a fertile ground for cultivating ideas where nothing is presumed."

BBVA had the initial idea: revolutionize self-service banking through a terminal that is radically different. "In the course of the project, IDEO realized that the limitation of the interaction between client and ATM wasn't the infor- mation, services or advantages offered. The failure was in how these were presented," explains Matteo Signorini leader of the ABIL project at IDEO.
Many are the clients who perceived that the machines weren't sufficiently intuitive, trustworthy or transparent. The objective of the project has always been migrating human teller users to the self-service channel, thereby maximiz- ing the commercial capacity of the medium. Pursuing this idea, the design team realized that beyond broadening the features of the ATM, it would be necessary to make it so that the extant functions were simpler, more human and easier. The ATM was not made more technological. It was made more human.

"On this platform we could broaden the features, advantages and future offers of self-service thanks to the rein- forcement of trust experienced through design," Julio Pérez Piña adds.

The most radical examples of innovation, regardless of the technology they incorporate, are always designed with deep insights about the consumer. It is about reinventing experiences: from the mop to Apple's iPod.

In fact, the danger lies in losing sight of the human need and being excessively centered on technology. "The rela- tionship with the client goes beyond marketing purposes. It helps to develop a relevant offer and this has been the case with ABIL," Signorini comments.
When it came to discovering all the commercial possibilities of a self-service channel for BBVA, IDEO observed and interviewed regular ATM users. "We did the same with people who had never used one as with clients whose relationship with the bank was exclusively through the ATM. To reveal the limitations of the offer it isn't enough to research the target audience, you also have to consider the extremes," explains Matteo Signorini.

For Signorini, "innovation is the blank space between multiple disciplines, unexplored spaces put into relation and value. IDEO has ample experience in innovating products, services and strategies. That is our business focus: cre- ate and implement disruptive innovations; devise things that don't exist. In the case of ABIL the concept of the ATM existed, but we looked for a new meaning, a new experience."

The relationship with BBVA was completely fluid. According to those involved: "the bank gave us room to do what we liked. With creativity as its driving force but also with the tenacity and patience necessary for the long haul," comments Matteo Signorini.

Julio Pérez Piña points out that "the nature of these projects, which are long and consume many resources, in- volves a relationship of mutual trust."
Up to 30 professionals from multiple profiles have worked on diverse phases of the conceptual development of ABIL under the supervision of a core team of seven people on behalf of IDEO: Communication designers, Interac- tion designers, Industrial designers, experts in the human factor...all without losing sight of the Design Intent, the benefit for the user, "this must never be lost in the different phases. Time limits should not stifle this simplicity and initial utility," concludes Signorini.

From theory to practice


NCR's work in creating ABIL was nothing less than designing and building the devices that IDEO was designing concep- tually. "The three greatest challenges in this project were the design and manufacturing of the shuttle or mechanical arm so that all the transactions were delivered to the client through a single opening, the tilt or interface at a 90o angle from the wall, and data encryption within the screen," explains Vicente Amores, Global Director for BBVA at NCR.
Overcoming the obstacles along the way was possible thanks to the work and efforts of the firm's engineers, who knew how to interpret the desires of the bank and apply them to their creation feats. "The challenge was getting that perfect balance between innovative design and the efficiency and effectiveness in the devices, and it's been achieved," states Amores.

This project involved structures of NCR in Spain, Scotland, Hungary and the United States, comprising a broad team of design engineers, analysts, programmers, technical directors, field engineers, and production, purchasing and commercial network personnel.

The project was managed by a leader put in charge of coordinating all the multifunctional teams that participated within NCR as well as interacting with the different units of the BBVA Team: technology, design, business.


For its part, Fujitsu undertook a dual role in the creation of the ABIL project: development of the machine-user communication interface and creation of the application that connects the ATM with the backend of the Bank. "For Fujitsu it has been quite a challenge to bring about such an advanced development in terms of interactivity and self-service," explains Mario Monge, Key Account Manager of BBVA at Fujitsu.
The know how of the company in Spain and Japan in the area of self-service engineering and application develop- ment came into play, always following the design premises of IDEO. In the Madrid laboratory a part of the frontend engineering and the interface was created and the branch in Barcelona developed the intermediate communica- tions devices.

"The ABIL interface is a living application that incorporates new features. Future uses of NFC (Near Field Communi- cation), a close range wireless protocol, is being considered for operating without a card through a mobile phone and making micropayments," Monge continues. The result in the eyes of the user is an application that is easy, customizable and accessible for which Fujitsu has worked hand in hand with BBVA Innovation in all its laboratories.

ABIL, and what is it like?



We think of the people


ABIL and you. 5 use mini-histories

Let's see, an ATM. Car has to go in a blue zone and I'm flat out of change. I hope the ATM can give me some bills smaller than 20s – just dreaming... And I'm already late and I could have left my project portfolio in the car, yes, for sure, now I've got to go back and put the parking ticket on the dashboard. I'm always hauling around so many things...I could use a couple more arms. Organization, Celia, organization. BBVA...sure, that works. But, where's the ATM? Ah, that's it. How elegant. And I'm not going to have to try to hold my portfolio between my knees with a side shelf made just for that purpose. And I can also put my purse down and not feel like I'm being watched. Touchscreen...hmm, this looks like a giant smart- phone. Who designed this, Sarah Jessica Parker? Insert card here...Wow! How great! It shows up on the screen! And who are you handsome? The hero? You're going to help me? Me? Interface Queen? Thanks, but I'm going straight for the money. I can choose the bill size? Look at that. Is this a joke? Where's the hidden camera?
ATM...but this is different. —Come on, Hugo. Here's the ATM. —Me, me, me. —You, you, what? Come on little guy. Look how cute this little table is next to the screen...pretty cool, huh? You want to set your toy down there? This doesn't have any buttons. Let's see, I'm not so HUGO great with this touchscreen stuff. The little guy knows more, he even goes up to the TV when the credits are rolling on his cartoons and tries to fast forward through them by dragging the image like he does on his mom's mobile phone. —Okay, Hugo, you going to help me out? Look, this man inside says he's going to help. What big buttons. Hit that one. —More. —No, that's it. Now it's giving back my card. Look how it comes out and, Ta-da! We're done. —Again. —Okay buddy, let's take a look at the account balance. Press there. Now there. That's it. —Again. —Well, all right. Let's take a look at...the weather forecast, okay. Press there again. Look how many suns, but Satur- day it's going to rain. Okay, let's get going. —Again.
What a long line. And I don't see Carlos. Maybe he went out for a coffee? Maybe he's sick? I like doing my transactions with him; he's so nice. I can ask all the things I want and he never gets impatient. And what if I make the deposit through the ATM? What a mess. Between the envelope coming out and putting it in the right slot, the receipt coming out somewhere else...that is if it has the paper to give you a receipt, sometimes you can't even get that... But this looks different. Is it really an ATM? Where are the buttons? It doesn't have any. Well, while I'm standing in line, let's see if I can figure out something so technological. Card goes in here...but if I'm putting it in the screen I must be doing something wrong...Ah, there it is, that's incredible!! It shows up on the screen!!. Choose transaction: deposit. Insert money here. In the same place? And there it is again on the screen! But this is great...what peace of mind! Let's see. The receipt also comes out at the same place. Hey, I like this thing and it's so easy. What else can it do?
I'm glad that someone finally realized. And it's not just the access ramp to public places. It's taking into account that a wheelchair occupies a certain amount of space. And that we live in a seated position. That we're thankful when our knees and arms don't bump against the wall that the ATM is built into or into the ATM itself. That we'd prefer to not have to reach our arms out in an awkward positions in order to use the keypad or screen. How nice that someone considered us for such an everyday object. And such an easy way of fixing it. Common sense and design. Thanks. Gracias.
I don't have enough cash for a taxi to the airport. ATM? Ah, there's a BBVA...and where's the machine? Is this it? It looks more like a terminal for tourist information. ABIL...sounds familiar. I think I read something in The Banker about these prototypes, sure. A step forward in self-service banking, design thinking, new user experience...But wasn't everything already invented? Let's see if you're really as good as all that. Okay, the design is justification alone. It allows for total privacy. Sure, it's not inside the wall and you can cover it like a protective screen...sim- plicity for the client, complex engineering behind it. That implies a tremendous effort in design. Interesting. And there's not a ton of slots. Strange. And on the side-shelf I can set my briefcase down and a disabled person can get up close and operate it more com- fortably. Wow. Transitions between the real world and the virtual reflected on the screen...sure, that way you eliminate uncertainty about 'where did my card go' or 'my deposit.' And I'm sure this terminal can remember the most frequent transactions for each user and quickly take them to what they want. Well, well...this is really plane!! When I get to the departure lounge I'll look for a wi-fi zone to find out more about ABIL.

Others grade us


Museum piece

In July 2011, the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York inaugurated the show "Talk to me: Design and the communication between people and objects", where they turned to ABIL as an example of interactivity generated between client and terminal in self-service banking.

"Being invited to go to the MOMA exhibition is already an acknowledgement that shows us that we're participating in building the future," assures Julio Pérez Piña, development leader for the ABIL project.

Other mentions

In its 2010 edition, the magazine The Banker, from the Financial Times group awarded BBVA for the develop- ment of ABIL in the category of Innovation in Delivery Channel Technology. The commitment of the organi- zation to conceptual and technological innovation in self-service banking was recognized through awards that analyze how innovative solutions and strategies allow financial institutions to address their business challenges.
In July 2011 ABIL received another recognition. This time, the ATM was awarded the silver mention in the category of commercial and industrial products from the most prestigious design competition in the world, IDEA (International Design Excellence Award). Through these awards organizations like BBVA who understand and apply the value of design in their objective for constant betterment and making life easier for their clients are recognized.

Other recognitions

ABIL also received a Bronze mention in the 2010 D&AD awards; took the prize in IF Communication Design 2011 and has been nominated for the design award from the Federal Republic of Germany 2012.

Behind ABIL

Julio Pérez Piña and Andrés Retortillo are our ABIL project managers.

For more information, please contact the BBVA Innovation Center:

bbva - centro de innovación


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The system also recognizes you, and it'll suggest shortcuts

Pieza de museo En julio de 2011, el Museo de Arte Moderno de Nueva York (MOMA) inauguró la muestra Talk to me: Design and the communication between people and objects a la que ABIL acude como muestra de la interactividad generada entre un cliente y un terminal de autoservicio bancario. "Haber sido invitados a acudir a la exposición del MOMA es ya un reconocimiento que nos indica que estamos participando en la construcción del futuro", asegura Julio Pérez Piña, líder del desarrollo del proyecto ABIL .
Curabitur vestibulum purus dapibus mi lobortis non gravida sapien ultrices. Etiam vel nulla sem
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close [x]

The system also recognizes you, and it'll suggest shortcuts

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit
Curabitur vestibulum purus dapibus mi lobortis non gravida sapien ultrices. Etiam vel nulla sem
Etiam suscipit vehicula tristique. Sed dictum vulputate augue, at malesuada nisi dictum in



El capitán del FC Barcelona, Carles Puyol

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Etiam suscipit vehicula tristique. Sed dictum vulputate augue, at malesuada nisi dictum in



El capitán del FC Barcelona, Carles Puyol

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit
Etiam suscipit vehicula tristique. Sed dictum vulputate augue, at malesuada nisi dictum in



El capitán del FC Barcelona, Carles Puyol

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Curabitur vestibulum purus dapibus mi lobortis non gravida sapien ultrices. Etiam vel nulla sem
Etiam suscipit vehicula tristique. Sed dictum vulputate augue, at malesuada nisi dictum in