The ICO’s general director of business, Rosario Casero, highlighted this Friday the importance of technological transformation for the economy and urged the collaboration of private and public banks and the Administration to promote the digitization of companies and SMEs. Casero seal during his opening speech at the conference held by the Economist ‘The technological revolution in banking: engine of growth for SMEs’ that digitization is a key vector for economic recovery, increased competitiveness and job creation in the country. For this reason, he considered that the process of transforming companies not only requires the driving force of private banking, but also of public banking such as the ICO, of the Administrations and of all the agents. “We talk about new risks, opportunities, investment and financing needs. We all need to contribute,” he said.
According to Casero, an example of the technological transformation of recent years has been the credit lines guaranteed by the ICO that were granted during the pandemic. “We feel proud because in a short time we have managed to get a lot of funds to companies, I like to mention it as a clear example of successful public-private collaboration. We should be thankful for what has gone well,” he said.
In his opinion, the digitization of the SME is not that it has a channel to sell on-line, but to invest in Artificial Intelligence, in process, customer and supplier management, in improving efficiency, in electronic invoicing and in secure communications and cybersecurity. “The responsibility of the ICO and private banks is to promote technological development in SMEs,” he pointed out. Casero, however, pointed out that there have already been great advances in terms of digitization in Spain. Based on data from the European Commission, he pointed out that Spain is ranked 9th out of all the countries in terms of digitization rates. Regarding technological integration in SMEs, 62% have a basic level of digitization and only 24% sell on-line. “Oh we have a bigger problem,” she said. Likewise, he pointed out that only 9% of SMEs use big data. “It is our responsibility as banks and the Public Administration to be the engine for them to advance in big data and Artificial Intelligence,” he stressed.
On the part of the Public Administration, Casero stressed that they already have the Digitization Plan 2021-2025 to promote innovation, in addition to a national Artificial Intelligence strategy to participate in large-scale European programs and the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan where 28% of the funds are dedicated to digitalization, that is, 19,600 million, of which 25%, 5,000 million, is aimed at SMEs.
In addition, Casero pointed out that there is currently a great need for financing and sources must be diversified. In this framework, she said that the Secretary of State for Digitization has created the fund NextTech to promote investment in growth companies in digital, connection and scientific technology. “Companies must diversify their sources of financing, not only traditional credit but go to grants or go to venture capital funds,” he said.